Entering the Realm of Raiden [Dual Contract Search]

Kazu

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High above the noise and commotion of the village below him, Ko climbed his way higher and higher up the craggy heights of the mountain. He'd heard tale of interesting sites and curious things, above the clouds and close to the ancient monastery devoted to the worship of Raiden. Truly this was His domain, nestled above the cares of the world with only heavenly thoughts and the universe to ponder on. Ko wasn't quite there yet—he could still see the clouds above him, marking the threshold between the earthly plane and the heavenly one. He wasn't far though, and so the young child would press on. He was lucky that the winds were not strong today, or else even the bundled layers of jackets would be insufficient to keep the young shinobi warm. It certainly would be poetic to say that his ambition, his drive, and his passion were what truly kept him warm, but when you face the possibility of a snowstorm coming your way at any moment you tend to put your stock into warm clothes rather than flowery words.

While the young boy had been musing over such fanciful thoughts, he approached the cloud line. "This is it," the child thought to himself. He was practically bubbling with excitement. One foot in front of the other, the young child walked head first into the clouds. His vision was obscured, and his could feel his clothes dampening. He couldn't see two feet in front of himself, but still he kept going. It was almost like some sort of heavenly test, to see whether he was worthy or not of gazing upon the magnificence that was sure to be awaiting him. He kept going. He shivered from the cold, but pressed on anyways. He kept pushing. It was a long task, but eventually Ko knew it would all be worth it. Eventually, though, would come sooner than the child thought.

His next step was breathtaking. He exited the cloud, and was met with a sight that was even more beautiful than he could have possibly imagined. The one thing you don't expect, having lived in a village where the sun didn't shine nearly as often as you'd like, is just how bright it is above the clouds. It makes sense, as there's nothing left to obscure the sun's marvelous rays, but it still caught the young boy off guard. The brilliant beams of light where casting their warmth over everything before him, illuminating the world in a way that Ko hadn't thought possible. The snow shone with a beautiful pureness to it, accentuating the darkly colored rock of the mountain's peak. The clouds drifted past, almost as if the peak were an island in a vast ocean. The wind had died down up here, creating a stillness that brought with it the weight of the world's magnificence. Ko could hardly breathe. He took a few steps forward, and with it the sound of crunching snow sent shivers down his spine. It was almost a religious experience, witnessing nature in all her naked glory. All the young child could do was whisper out a faint, "Wow," before falling silent again.

Ko let it all sink in as his senses slowly found their way back to him. He spotted the monastery that he'd heard about earlier up a bit further along the path. He was considering visiting the people who dwelt there, but wanted to first try and locate the Nimbus Springs that he'd heard about. They were said to contain water so pure and crystalline that Raiden himself visited them once in a while to admire their beauty. It was for this reason that the cave that contained the springs depicted carvings of the great god of lightning, honoring Him and his exploits. It seemed like a fascinating place, which was what had sparked Ko's interest in the first place. It was his mission for today, assigned by himself: find the Nimbus Springs, and uncover whether the rumors surrounding it are true.

[Word Count: 673]
[Waiting for Tsukino Nanami]
 

Tsukino Nanami

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</B>Chapter 9: Gates of Hell<B>Bonus Chapter: The Voice of the Mountain

BGM: The Voice of the Mountain

It has been less than a year since she departed the border of Kirigakure; the frozen wasteland that incurred the wrath of the gods. But why? Why did Kirigakure incur the wrath of the gods? Answers would have been more obvious to her if she was allowed to leave the S.C.A.R. ANBU compound and have been allowed to freely move about the village she was born in and grew up in. The place she loved was turned into a frigid hell and she doesn't know the reason why. An answer was given to her, stating that it was 'the wrath of the gods' that struck down Kirigakure, turning it into the 7th ring of hell. The parallels with The Divine Comedy made the situation even more ironic.

She has always been bound; slave to something throughout her short life thus far. She was a slave to the ANBU's branch - S.C.A.R. to do their bidding. To kill people for 'the sake of Kirigakure, even if it meant slowly losing her humanity due to their wicked and terrifying brainwashing brought forth from Project Beowulf, all to suit the twisted desires of one man's demonic definition of vengeance. She then became a slave to the orphanage where she took care of children after the fall of Kirigakure; bound by the guilt she felt from killing countless men and women due to S.C.A.R.'s ambition, orphaning many children and as a way to atone for such sins by bringing up new and kinder people to flourish in this generation racked with war and violence. Finally, she is now a prisoner of the Isaki clan, to do their bidding in order to gain the knowledge she sought after for many years. No matter how far or fast the woman runs, she is constantly a slave to someone or something.

Taking a deep breath outward, her breath froze in the chilled air. Everything that was touched by this cryogenic blast of air instantly froze over turning into ice. The mountain reminded her of the downfall of her beloved home and reminded her of the sins that the world had to bear. Even now, she continued to seek out her answer to 'why'. That single word has begun to drive the woman mad.
Why has the world become so stricken with poverty?
Why does this world allow violence and unnecessary suffering?
Why do people allow others to hurt for sport?
Why did the gods strike Kirigakure down?

Many questions plagued her mind and by unlocking those answers, more questions are made visible. The endless and vicious cycle of ignorance is something everyone comes across; an impasse that people either find a stopping point to and move on or allow the questions they had to gnaw away at their mind, body, and spirit. Were the gods testing her? Testing her resolve? Testing her faith to them? The gods were fickle with human-like emotions of their desire for praise and worship and childish longing for vengeance. The same things people abhorred in humanity is allowed to stand the test of time with gods; to be accepted as 'the gods' will'. Standing on the face of the mountain, over-looking the Spine of the World made these ideas flood through her brain all at once. Beauty, awe, and reflection were things given to her by the mountains before her.

A cold wind blew, causing Nanami to clutch at the heavy coat bequeathed to her by a member of Megiddo. Megiddo being the name Nanami was taught to call Kumogakure. A place where the world will end and salvation begins. The place that the apocalypse will take center-stage at. Looking over the large crags poking up over the dark clouds, Nanami shivered in the cold. Something was more calm this high up, devoid of the treacherous weather and terrifying domain of man. A whispering was heard as the cold wind swept through the landscape, pushing small particles of ice and snow with it and a horizontal flurry. The whispering was the voice of the mountain.

BGM: Singing Mountain​

Closing her eyes for a moment just to hear the voice of the mountain singing in her ears, a small smile came upon her face as the song of such a powerful giant was soothing and comforting. Perhaps the mountains are much like water; soothing and comforting, but is capable of being a destructive force. Everything could be seen in that manner, staying true to the principle of Yin and Yang. However, something was extremely gentle and calming of the mountain this high up. Splendid beauty captivated the woman as the songs spilled from it's voice filled her ears. The woman took a moment and a deep breath in, quickly freezing the openings that allowed air to flow inside. Exhaling, the woman opened her eyes to notice a large monastery sitting atop of one of the mountains. Looking down, she saw a small speck that contrasted with the brilliant white of the mountain's ice.

Observing the object for a brief moment, she noticed it slowly ascending the mountain. A step was taken forward by the woman as her feet crushed the snow before her in a prolonged crunching noise. Taking another step forward, her steps began to running as she was curious as to what the darkened spot in the distance was. The spot piqued at her curiosity, but knew that shouting in the mountains would be unwise, causing a shift in the snow's position and giving way to a catastrophic avalanche. No, it wasn't her intention of ruining such a beautiful landscape, nor incurring the wrath of the mountain itself. The mountain liked silence and tranquility so something loud and boisterous would anger the mountain, causing it's voice to turn into a roar with rage that rivals that of a volatile volcano.

Moments later...
Having descended from her mountain and returned to above the cloud-line, Nanami caught up with the dark figure she saw upon the mountain. The figure was small and glancing over the mountains just as she was. Taking heavy breaths, the woman took a step forward towards the child and spoke.

"You're here to listen to the voice of the mountain to, are you not?" she asked with a smile upon her face. It was a relief that the figure she saw in the distance was another human being. One that is living and also basking in the majesty of the mountain. "You should hear it sing, it's magnificent." she said still winded from the lengthy travel down and up the mountain with the lack of oxygen this high up. Thankfully, for her, the effects of altitude sickness have yet to kick in.

[WC: 1103]
[Joined Dual Contract Search]
[Good luck :D]
 

Toraono Kuro

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OOC: You have both collectively found the bear contract
If you wish to accept this and further undertake this endeavour please respond to the following post:



A large extremely well muscled man with a white fur lined robe and boots emerged from the temple. His hands were inside his robe but he towered over the two ninja standing at nine feet in height and weighing an easy 720 lbs. His movement was so sure and direct he made not a sound as he came upon them. Where their breaths were heavy and strained from the altitude his was sure and clear. His exhalations did not even make mist until he opened his mouth to speak. Darkened runic tattoos encircled his brow, eye brows, and the corners of his eyes. Giant stone beads of unknown make encircled his neck and sat easily upon his massively muscled chest. "Welcome to the gateway of the Monastery of Raiden, may I help you in your pilgrimage?"
 

Kazu

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"Sleeping Giant, Restless Dwarf"

The silence of the mountain was perforated by heavy breathing and crunching snow. Someone was approaching him. He turned to look, and who did he see but a young woman with a grin on her face. Her words made him smile—it was refreshing to see another person who could appreciate the serenity of this place. "This is the first time I've been." His smile was wide as he took a moment to appreciate the scenery alongside this woman. The mountain truly was incredible, like some sort of behemoth that had decided to stop, rest for night, and then never woke up again. The world had grown and developed around this colossal reminder of nature's might, but the mountain had remained as it was. There was a poem in there somewhere. "Truly, it's something else." The young boy looked over to the woman, taking in her appearance. She must have been ten years older than him, at least. Her smile, though, was youthful. Full of life, love, and joy. He wondered how she'd managed to keep hold of that. She said something about the mountain singing, which Ko didn't quite get. "Singing, ma'am? The wind? The silence? Is that what you mean?" Was she speaking metaphorically? Ko wasn't the best at seeing the meanings behind words. Sometimes a direct approach was the best way to deal with things.

As the two stood there, exchanging pleasantries and musing on the beauty of the mountain, Ko spotted a figure emerging out of the monastery up the hill. At first, they looked like any ordinary person. That, however, was only because they were so far away. As the person drew closer to them, it became apparent that they were more a hulking monster than a person. This man was a giant, standing at twice Ko's height and probably more than six or seven times his weight. Was he even human? Ko tried to not look shocked with the man's presence, but that would be like asking a puppy to not be excited to play with it's brothers and sisters. A tiger cannot change its stripes; while Ko could try to hide his surprise, he could not suppress it. His appearance—aside from his height—was rather interesting. Tattoos covered the man's body, giving him a sort of spiritual look. It seemed appropriate if he was coming from the monastery. But what astounded Ko the most was that, despite his size, the man managed to make not a single sound on his way down the mountain. This woman had been given away by her heavy breathing and crunching footsteps. This man seemed to have ignored all that, as if the rules of the mountain simply did not apply to him.

And then he spoke. A voice so deep and powerful, Ko couldn't help but feel smaller than he already felt. However, this was not the time to be scared or silent. The man had done the trouble of coming down all this way to offer them assistance, so Ko thought it polite to speak what he had come here for, candidly and without hesitation. "Thank you, sir. I have come here seeking the Nimbus Springs—I wanted to see if the rumors surrounding them were true. Rumors of mystique, of might, and of a connection to Lord Raiden. They say he visits those pools, from time to time." Ko had a polite smile on his face, genuine and truly thankful. As he spoke his intentions here, though, he wondered why the woman was here. He hadn't gotten a chance to ask her, yet. Come to think of it, he hadn't even had the chance to ask her name...
 

Tsukino Nanami

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</B>Chapter 9: Gates of Hell<B>Bonus Chapter: The Voice of the Mountain

A smile was returned to the young lad that she encountered. To think that children were strong enough to endure the snapping cold of the glacial winds and to endure the lack of oxygen this high into the atmosphere. Perhaps children of Kumogakure, or rather Megiddo, are built of stronger, sterner stuff that those that lived so close to sea-level. Things were different up here than it is down there. Things are tranquil and clean, but it is just as if not more deadly than the ocean, herself.

"The mountain's song," she said in response to the child. Perhaps it was strange for her to be able to hear singing all the way up here in the mountain, but perhaps that is also probably oxygen deprivation. The lack of oxygen being supplied to her brain has most likely caused her brain to be hearing things. Perhaps what she did hear was something legitimate and something pure. Turning to away from the child, a behemoth of a man appeared before her. She wasn't surprised, nor was she mortified by the man's size. Her travel companions were over 7 feet tall, well, at least two of them were so another 2 feet isn't too intimidating. What did catch her off guard is how she wasn't able to detect the man's presence before he showed up.

The first thing that caught her eye as her eyes fell upon the man were the over-sized prayer beads worn by the man. Afterward, the strange runic designs upon his face caught her attention The man then spoke with chilling and booming words; voice deep enough to rattle your bones. She listened to the child speaking before turning her eyes back to the man and responded in her own way.

"We thank you. I've just come up here to reflect and look within," she said towards the oversized man. Her thoughts were in a mess and in a terrifying jumble. Bad thoughts, horrifying thoughts, terrifying thoughts, and even random worldly desires constantly appeared in her mind. But with all the thoughts that oppressed her, what she really desired was home. She missed Kirigakure -- Eden. The fact that the village froze into a colder object than the mountain she is standing on. The amount of lives swallowed by the ice and the children orphaned by the tragedy was appalling. That was the thing that plagued her mind for so long now -- also not knowing 'why' it happened. This is why she's on her pilgrimage with the Isaki Clan. To find the answer 'why'.

"The view here is, indeed, majestic is it not? But wouldn't this beauty lose it's splendor since you live here?"
 

Toraono Kuro

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His runic tattoos and giant stone beads changed the hue of deep abiding blue as they made their requests. With a thoughtful nod and a smooth almost happy grin he nodded to them both, Nanami, then Kotsuko in turn. "I see, your requests are simple and easy to abide, I shall escort you both to the sacred springs inside the temple. Once there you will both need to make a prayer to your gods then sign our visitor's scroll. After you have done these things you may stay here as my guests for as long as you deem necessary, all food and clothing will be by my choice but you can decide on the color and type of food... Are these terms acceptable to you?" He seemed quite happy at the moment. One could almost feel the warmth of his mood as a physical swirl of heat that took the cold away and made it feel like a spring breeze.
 

Kazu

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Ko wasn't sure what he'd been expecting. When he'd first realized this behemoth of a man didn't quite feel right with him, he didn't know what to think about it. But now, in this moment, Ko was really wishing that he'd figured something out. This man...what the heck was up with him. As he stood there, smiling, his tattoos and necklace beads began to change colors. They slowly turned a deep blue, almost as if in response to their words. Ko was a little worried by that, but at the same time the man seemed so kind and thoughtful. Could he be up to something? Ko wasn't sure, but until he did something the young boy would give him the benefit of the doubt. As the man spoke, Ko could do naught but listen to him carefully. He was curious as to what the man had in store for them. When he heard mention of the springs, his eyes lit up a little bit. He was very interested in seeing for himself what secrets these springs held, whether there was any truth to the rumors. Ko's smile grew, and he responded to the man with a little more enthusiasm in his voice. "Sir, thank you for being so generous. I can't wait to see the springs!" The man's next words, though, were a little odd. Ko was fine with praying, but what was that bit about the food? He would be picking the kind of food, and they would be picking the...color? And what was that about the clothing? Would they have to change into something else? Ko hesitated a little on this part, but he figured it would be rude not to accept. "Yes, sir, that sounds wonderful. Thank you." As they all talked, Ko noticed an odd sensation. Was that...warmth? It took the young boy to notice it, but the air was starting to get warmer around them. There was a slightly breeze to it, coming from...

...from him? Who was this guy? Seriously, was this man a shinobi? Ko couldn't rule the possibility out, what with all the stuff that had been going on. Ko was even more curious than before. He needed to know a little more. Just a jab of information. "I don't believe I've given you my name yet, sir. I'm Kotsuko, from Kumogakure." Hopefully he would provide his name in return. Ko glanced over to the woman as well, curious as to whether she'd provide her name as well. There were still many questions to be answered around here, and Ko intended to find those answers one way or another. He was determined.
 

Tsukino Nanami

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</B>Chapter 9: Gates of Hell<B>Bonus Chapter: The Voice of the Mountain
Sacred springs? I wonder what's there? Strange how water can remain liquid at this high of a level
The invitation was sent out to follow the large man up to the monastery. A strange and gentle blow of heat emanated from the large man, enough to melt away and thaw her out in this frigid landscape. The feeling of warmth rushed over her body, slowly seeing the snow and ice begin to sweat into water. The invitation was very tempting, but due to her getting lost in thought while in the mountain made it extremely difficult to turn back. She didn't have a frame of reference to work off of nor does she really know her way to return to the mainland at sea level.

"Well, yes, thank you for your offer," she said graciously. She did appreciate the offer and graciously accepted it. There wasn't much she could do at the moment other than follow this man and possibly protect this child in the case that the man wasn't who he says he was. Moving over and standing next to the child. She didn't distrust the man, but she also has issues trusting strangers. She didn't even necessarily trust this child, but the child wasn't strong enough to physically harm her -- or the large man standing before her for that matter.

The boy introduced himself as Kotsuko from Kumogakure. She figured the boy came from Megiddo, being that no normal person would make their way up this mountain for no good reason; especially at Kotsuko's tender age. Bundling the coat around her body, she turned to look at the strangely tattooed man before her and responded soon after Kotsuko did with his name.

"I am Tsukino Nanami. From Kirigakure," she said. If people understood or read their history, they would know of the fate of Kirigakure. She extended a hand as if to point in the direction behind the large tattooed man. Her palm faced up and her fingers were pressed together. "After you, sir."
 

Toraono Kuro

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Once underway they reached the actual monastery in a few minutes. With a quick glance they would notice that the very walls of the monastery had been hand molded from the mountain itself. The steps were polished enough to allow you to see your reflection in them but they did not make one slip or slide about some form of rippling design allowed the stairs to help you progress up the path before you. The stone started out grey and dull but as they made it higher and higher the stones became a dull, milky blue, with jade and emerald tone highlights where the stone became interior flooring. The pillars and the ceiling itself were sky blue jade as if one were looking up into the sky. As they entered the foyer Uryuukuma had them stand before a large blackwood desk where he pulled a massive visitor's ledger book. It was bound with gold backing and leather protective ends. The cover had the symbol for a bear of some sort upon it and if one looked at the pages the names of three unknown names could be seen.

Kamaru
Miroku Akkuma
Hikari

He then pulled a large jade chest over and selected a purple coat, boots, and matching sash. He then passed these articles of clothing to Nanami. Afterwards he gave a matching pale green outfit to Kotsuko as he waited for their signatures before descending to the springs.
 

Kazu

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The woman had introduced herself as Tsukino Nanami, and stated that she was from Kirigakure. When Ko heard that, his heart sank for the woman. Ko was a voracious reader, and liked to keep as up-to-date about the current events in the world as he could—for that reason, he knew the icy fate that had befallen her home. Ko was a little hard pressed to understand exactly what that must have been like for her, but then again he didn't know much about her at all. He tried to catch her gaze, and if he managed to he would give her a sympathetic look while he mouthed the words 'I'm sorry' to her. He didn't want to be rude, but he thought just expressing his sympathy for her wouldn't be too much. Not wanting to dwell too long on the subject—for her sake as well as his—the young boy would begin walking behind the tattooed man up towards the monastery.

Upon reaching the establishment, Ko could hardly believe the magnificent beauty which this place exuded. This place was a harmonious meeting of civilization and nature, where the two had managed to coexist as one. The cliff had been chiseled into shape, gently sculpted to fit the needs of its inhabitants. And yet, despite the changes, one could not take away the feeling that they were walking into a cave rather than a building. The floor was as silky smooth as granite, and the steps that led them up seemed to be like a rippling and translucent waterfall. Ko felt steady and secure walking up these stairs, but at the same time he felt like he was floating up a river. The colors magnificently cascaded into brilliant hues and shades, painting the inside of the mountain the colors of nature. Green and emerald jade filled the floor, and sky blue jade filled the ceiling. Ko wasn't sure if he'd stepped into a monastery, a cave, or a piece of artwork. Awe and amazement filled his eyes as he looked around himself, gazing at all the beauty this place held.

Continuing through the wonderland of colors, they arrived at a large desk with a massive book laid out on top of it. The thing looked really old, but also really ornate. Golden backings and padded leather protective ends were not something that every single book had. It was curious, too, due to the symbol etched into the cover—it was a bear. In the pages were simply names, ones that Ko did not recognize. The young boy flashed the woman and the tattooed man an inquisitive look, wondering what was up with it. "Am I supposed to sign in, or something?" The man began to move off to retrieve something, leaving Ko a little unsure. He looked to the woman for advice. "I guess we need to, huh? I guess it's a visitor check-in book, or something?" The young boy picked up a nearby quill, dipped the nib in a little ink bottle nearby, and slowly traced his name out below the last one there. His handwriting was fairly neat and proper, showing just how much time he spent reading and writing in his free time. Once he'd finished, he handed the quill over to Nanami.

The man returned not a moment later with two sets of clothes for the two of them. They seemed to be the same kind of clothes, but were different colors. His was a pale green, while hers was a regal purple. Ko seemed to have a question burning in his mind, though, and didn't wait to ask it. "Are we supposed to change here? Like, in front of everyone?" A bit of an embarrassing question, seeing as how he'd never changed in front of a woman before. However, before the question got answered, he watched the man head off towards a set of descending stairs. Not wanting to be left behind, the young boy didn't try to change just yet. Clutching the clothes, Ko ran off after the man. "Hey, wait a minute! Don't leave us behind!"
 

Tsukino Nanami

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</B>Chapter 9: Gates of Hell<B>Bonus Chapter: The Voice of the Mountain
Following behind the young child, Nanami caught a glance at him mouthing the words 'I'm sorry' to her. Without responding to the boy's words, she turned her eyes towards the large man as they ascended the large mountain towards the sacred springs. Continuing up towards the mountain, the woman bundled herself up in her coat before finding her way up to the large palace-like structure. The path was of earthly tones, but gradually changing to pastel colors. Everything became more beautiful and bright as they walked through the temple.

Upon coming to a stop, she noticed the man, Uryuukuma, pulling out a large book lined in gold with pages. The cover showed a bear on the cover, causing an eyebrow to raise. What's the significance of the bear? Looking down at the page exposed on the book were 3 names. Kamaru - Miroku Akkuma - Hikari. She would know the name Kamaru, having attempted to meet with the man while she was in stone. However, due to not actually ever meeting with the man, she cleaned his office and left due to his inability to keep appointments.

After looking at the names, she reached for a pen to sign the ledger, but there were no pens present. A large chest, however, was brought in their direction. She was handed a purple coat, boots, and a matching sash. Looking back at the book, she noticed a pen there. Boy does she feel rather foolish. She turned her head towards the child and shrugged her shoulders. "I suppose we have to sign in. Otherwise, the large book wouldn't be here, yeah?" she mentioned as she reached for the pen and quickly scribed her name into the book. As quickly as she wrote it, she also attempted to make sure her name was clear and legible.

After signing the ledger, the woman began to disrobe where she stood. Turning her back towards the boy, she began by removing the large coat given to her, revealing the fact that she was wearing skin-tight clothing. After folding the large coat, she placed it gently on the ground. She then began to remove articles of clothing, folding each piece and placing them upon each other into a nice pyramid of sorts. She didn't care who saw her nude, as she was forced to do far worse. She eventually completely stripped down naked. Holding an arm up to cover herself, she turned her head towards the child and cleared her throat.

"There might be a purified area ahead of us, get dressed," she simply stated to the child before placing the purple coat over her body, followed by the boots, and then finally the sash. After placing the clothing on, she turned and looked towards the boy. "Make it quick," she stated as she turned towards her clothing, arranging her weapons in a way that displays them perfectly. She was certain that enlightened men wouldn't steal their items.
 

Toraono Kuro

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As they followed it became apparent that Uryuukuma was a very pious and devout man, he would regularly stop at intervals, turn and face a statue of either a man, an animal, or a lightning wielding sword carrying god and offer a prayer, there were sculptures and engravings here and there that if either of them took the time to observe at Uryuukuma’s pace would tell a warm and passion filled story about two beings from different worlds whom came to love one another after years of conflict and occasional fights. As they descended down the large spiraling stairwell they would both notice they felt really warm, protected, and unreasonably strong. Scents would come easier to them as the mists from the hot springs rose from below with the soft sweet scent of honey lingering ever so gently. After what seemed like an hour of walking they would reach the base of the second monastery chamber as they had entered the first and taken the second staircase down out of four staircases. Uryuukuma turned to them and smiled as he held out his left arm without speaking it was plain to see his manner was telling them “Behold…” The vast mist filled chamber was split down the middle with a large blue jade walkway with koi, salmon, catfish, and giant bass carved in it, stairwells descending into the pools were on either side of the walkway. Stones that gave off moderate heat and light were ensconced at strategic points of the chamber giving the hot springs a very rustic feel. An impossibly large and deep pool of excessively hot water well-tended along the far north of chamber. Sparkles of lightning discharges could be seen in the distance. Uryuukuma then produced two stone tablet menus, one side was fish, the other side was venison, footnotes at the base of the menu on the venison side depicted eight beverages ranging from tea to mead, and wine. “Welcome to the Nimbus springs of the Raiden Monastery, you may bathe wherever you like and partake of any meal you like but you must be careful about the color of the meal as that will dictate how hot and spicy it will be the colors range the entire eight set spectrum of the rainbow with violet being the spiciest. Your choice in pools of reflection will determine whether your meal is served traditional style and raw like sushi or Raiden style, flash fried. Relax and enjoy yourselves just be careful of the northernmost pool, special beings have made it their own and it can be rather dangerous there if you are unprepared for storms and near boiling water.”<i></i>
 

Kazu

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Before the young boy could get too far ahead of himself, the woman called out at him. Skidding to a halt, Ko realized that what she was saying could very well be true. If what laid ahead was a purified place, he most certainly couldn't enter with the clothes he had on now. Despite all the reading he did, Ko had much to learn. Turning around, Ko was met with the site of the woman completely naked—save for her arm covering her breasts—facing towards him without a care in the world. She might have been used to this, but Ko certainly was not. His face quickly turning red, he averted his gaze out of respect; though, she would see his eyes wander back every so often as curiosity got the better of him. "U-Uh, yes m-ma'am." At the end of the day, Ko was still just a kid. This was the first time he'd ever seen a woman even halfway disrobed, so it was understandable that he was as nervous as he was. When she told him to ""make it quick", though, he realized that he'd have to change right there as well. Swallowing his fear, Ko disrobed himself as well. He made care not to look her in the eyes, though he made no promises about looking elsewhere out of the corner of his eyes. Pulling on his pale green robes, the young boy followed suit with the woman and folded his clothes up. Placing them next to hers, his face was still as red as a tomato. It contrasted well with his green robes.

Now ready to follow the man, Ko made his way towards the descending stairs. It didn't take long for them to bump into him, though, as it seemed he was stopping at places to pray. Among the things he prayed to were sculptures and statues, each depicting either a man, an animal, or what appeared to be a lightning wielding figure. Ko recognized the last one as Raiden, the lightning god who ruled over these lands. The other figures he didn't know as readily, but he assumed they held similar importance to Kumogakure's resident protector. Ko wasn't quite sure, but the statues seemed to tell a story. He wasn't very religious, but if he were he might have been able to pick up on it more. As it was, he was only vaguely aware that one existed—the actual tale was lost on him. The mood, though, was calming and relaxing. As they descended further, Ko could feel his body becoming more and more rejuvenated, as if the holiness of the area was affecting him directly. He became distinctly aware of an aroma that was both subtle and overt, filling his nostrils with the sweet scent of honey. It wasn't until they reached the bottom of the stairs, though, that Ko could truly appreciate this place's beauty.

At the bottom level, the tattooed man held his hand out in front of them, inviting them to look open the beauty of this place. Jade lined the walls and the floor, eloquent figures carved into it's surface. A thick mist obscured most of the chamber, but Ko could make out stairs leading down towards the various pools and springs on either side of the pathway. The boy looked out in awe as the man handed him a stone tablet that appeared to be a menu of sorts. Ko looked it over, still in disbelief at how beautiful this place was, as he listened to the man explain everything. When he warned them about the northernmost pool, though, Ko became very curious. Peering over towards it, he could see the faint light of discharged energy. Lightning, perhaps? Maybe that was Raiden himself, joining them for a nice relaxing bath? Ko pushed his questions aside for the moment, and instead focused on the man who'd treated them so well. He turned and bowed to the great tattooed giant, honoring his kindness. "Thank you very much. Your hospitality is immense, and your kindness even more so." With that, Ko smiled at Nanami as well. He headed into the room, eager to see what wonders this room held. Hopefully she would follow along with him.

He headed over towards the springs that flash fried the fish, choosing a fish that was a deep emerald green—he didn't know how spicy it all was, so he figured he'd start with something in the middle. The waters were so warm and soothing, they almost felt medicinal. He settled down into place before he bit into his food, it's savory taste making his entire mouth salivate. It was cooked to perfection, and warmed his whole body on the way down his throat. If there was a heaven, Ko imagined this is what it would be like. Taking a sip of the green tea he'd picked up as well, he cleared his throat of the fried fish. He looked to see where the woman was—hopefully she was close by. If she was not, he would get up and move over towards her so that he could speak with her. "Hey, what do you think he meant about the northernmost pool? I'm not going to lie, I'm really curious..." Even though the guy said they shouldn't go there, Ko really wanted to know what was over there. The real question, though, was whether Nanami was just as curious as he was.
 

Tsukino Nanami

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</B>Chapter 9: Gates of Hell<B>Bonus Chapter: The Voice of the Mountain
Turning her eyes towards the child after he finished dressing, a small smile crossed her face. She didn't completely finish undressing, however, removing the spandex armlet that covered her left arm, folding up the elastic tubing and placing it upon her clothing. Turning to look back towards the child, she reached her left arm up to the top of her head and released the bow into a long black ribbon. Folding that, she placed it upon the very top of her clothing. Her long black hair flowed freely, dipping down to her lower back. Her hair flowed slowly and majestically down her lumbar and gently flowing upon her shoulders. Moving her hand up to the side of her face, she strung her hair over the webbing of her fingers and slowly moved her hand back. Her hair flowed through her fingertips like sand and as smoothly as silk.

Her flesh was of a cherry red with the blood vessels under her skin still collected to prevent frostbite from occurring. Her flesh didn't do well in the frigid tundra of the mountain, but her heart was content if even for the moment. Having heard the voice of the mountain was spiritual; if not a religious experience in it's own right. However, she knew that mountains were created through natural processes; even if the natural processes were guided by the hands of God. A smirk was given to the boy as she finished thrusting her fingers through her hair, causing each strand to find their way behind her. "Green looks good on you. Though, I think the color blue suits you better," she said in her own opinion. Now that her clothing was replaced by robes and a sash, the colors of royalty, the woman turned and followed the beast-like man.

Noticing the man stop every so often to pray to the gods, Nanami had no intention of praying to deities she considers 'false gods'. However, these are the beliefs of the man of the mountain and the mountain caressed her enough and showed her what the mountained wanted. It isn't her place to deny, desecrate, or disrespect the idols present in this grand hall. Mimicking the beastial man's behavior, she would emulate his actions, stopping by each of the statues the man had and looked up at the statue for a moment before paying her respects. If, indeed, these gods were responsible for her safe trek through the mountains, she should at least thank them for the safe passage. After offering a short prayer to the gods of the mountain, she was taken to a corridor of smaller statuettes that seemed to tell a story. She couldn't relate to the love and romance that these statues were telling a story of, having spent most of her life as a controllable object for people's desires, vendettas, and purposes. She had no time to understand the concept of love between a man and a woman; at least not in the concept of romantic love.

While these statues told a beautiful story, she couldn't relate to any of it. She was robbed of such pleasures due to a keyword that completely altered her personality into a weapon created by SCAR. There is only one person left alive that knows the word, and that person's sole purpose is to make Nanami suffer for the sins she had committed while being part of SCAR. Her sister, of all people, sought for Nanami's endless torment; the look on her face when she's emotionally ruined sent chills down her sisters spine. It was as if that was what she lived for (and to some extent, that is the entire truth). After taking some time to reflect on her past and to ponder the meaning of love, she came to a stop upon reaching a large spiraling staircase leading down. Taking a step forward, she instantly felt a strange warmth and strength radiating from down within the depths. The warmth thawed out the relentless cold she felt, returning color to her body and bringing tactile functions back to 100 percent.

Stopping upon seeing the man say 'Behold', her eyes followed the man's finger to the direction it pointed at. The sight was, indeed, breathless. However, this had nothing on the majestic beauty of the world outside. However, out of respect for the man and the palace-like building, she showed some excitement. While she is a pius woman, herself, the fact that so many precious resources and time was used to erect a monument to the gods baffled her. If only the money and time used to create a large monument like this was spent on the people in the world below, this would be a slightly less tormented world. A world where people learned to love each other before they loved their deities. However, thoughts like that had no place inside of a megalith of worship.

Turning to notice the boy being completely awestruck by the man-made construct they were in brought a bit of a frown to her face. Then again, this was but a child who couldn't see true beauty even if it stared him in the face. The mountain was more beautiful than this place. Certainly, this place was warmer with more hospital decor and food, but it was the massiveness and the splendor of the mountain that enchanted her. Perhaps that is something that only someone who lost the land that they loved the most could understand. Perhaps the child may feel the same if the mountains crumbled or burnt like how the waters and forests of Water Country froze over as did the River Cocytus.

Taking the tablet, she read over the menu for a moment and looked at the choices. Turning to look towards Ko, she shook her head at his choice. She didn't much care for having fish flash-fried. No, eating something like that would just clog up her arteries and make her gain weight. And someone in her career-field couldn't afford to gain too much weight. Taking the tablet, she looked it over for a bit longer before following Ko's lead and bowed to the man. "Yes, thank you for your hospitality," she said bowing deeply to show her respect for the man. Walking up towards Ko, she cleared her throat and simply points towards the pool of water that is offering to serve her food raw, in the form of sushi and sashimi. She would also decide to go with the color given to her, choosing the purple dish. Indeed, she has never eating spicy raw fish, but it only made sense to her to respect the color chosen for her by the hospitable man.

Having yet obtained her food, she listened to what Ko had to say and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. But I would like to find out, myself," she mentioned. "But I'll be going to the other pool," she said. While she wasn't bothered by changing in front of the child, being that it's happened many times in the past due to the brainwashing she had to endure, bathing was a completely different story. "We could consider looking into it, but first we should eat. Wouldn't want to disrespect our hosts by turning down the food they offered us, right?" she said before nodding to the boy and heading off towards her pool of water.

Entering the water, the robe fluttered up with the water. She quickly ordered her food, requesting the Purple Dish filled with salmon and tuna sashimi and sushi. Along with the sushi and sashimi, she also ordered water with some hot green tea to drink. After the food arrived, she dipped into the water, feeling her muscles quickly relax for a moment. Might as well enjoy a soak and free food while they were offered it.

[Sorry for the late post..]
[Chose Purple Plate]
[Chose Raw fish]
 

Toraono Kuro

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The waters were soothing although Kotsuko's waters were considerably hotter than Nanami's as such his robes and clothing took on a darker more lifelike appearance. If Nanami were to look at him through the steamy mists it would look as if he were growing taller and more muscular, Nanami would notice that her hair was longer and had taken on a purple hue. She would also notice that her fingernails had darkened and become alot thicker. Her meal was soothing and terribly delicious, it was as if the soothing waters had made her senses sharper. She could separate every flavor on her pallette, she could smell every ingredient and what seemed stranger was she felt distinctly stronger. Uryuukuma had left them to their baths, there was a set of towels and dry fluffy robes near the base of the staircase for them to change into when they were ready to leave the hot springs.
 

Kazu

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It seems as if Nanami and him were cut from the same cloth. Curiosity was Ko defining trait, though it could sometimes lead him into trouble. When you're curious enough to want to venture over towards a pool of crashing thunder and vicious lightning, you might want to take a step back and consider if that was wise. Ko, however, was too young to be wise. He lived for knowledge, and sought to constantly expand his understanding of the world. As such, he wouldn't able to avoid it for long—he was going to the pool that he was told, explicitly, not to. He didn't care if he ate the forbidden fruit, so long as he got to know what it tasted like. Nanami seemed curious too, but for her manners came first. They'd been offered food and rest, and she intended to use them before doing anything rash. Ko was a little disappointed with this development, huffing sourly all the way back to his own pool. Still, he couldn't deny that the waters and food were soothing. He returned to his fried fish, eating it with renewed vigor and strength. He chewed the tasty fish, enjoying the crunch of the battered skin. His senses flared, and his appetite was whetted. Gulping the last of the green tea, Ko decided that he'd just leave the plate and the cup on the side of the pool. The tattooed man never really told them what to do with their finished dishes, so Ko hoped that this would be alright. Taking a moment to enjoy the waters as well, Ko focused himself on his breathing. Calming himself, the young boy decided that it would be alright to just enjoy this for a moment. He closed his eyes, and rested.

Still, there was that nagging in the back of his head. It didn't take long for him to start getting uncomfortable, visibly squirming and getting restless. His eyes opened up, and he quickly moved towards some of the towels meant for them to cover up with. Ko draped a fluffy white towel over himself as he left the pool, not wanting to wait anymore to see what was going on with the pool of lightning. He glanced over to Nanami as he walked the path, noticing that her hair had started to turn a deep shade of purple. Furthermore, her fingernails looked a little more feral—they were thick and dark. Ko couldn't quite put his finger on what it was, but something about this place was odd. And when there were abnormalities around, there was something still to discover. Ko locked eyes with the woman, and motioned for her to follow him. He mouthed out the words "come on," giving her a moment to get out and cover herself. He was going to go check out the pool, with or without her. If she abstained from joining him, then he'd go on ahead without her. However, it would be much better if she went with him.

He walked down the pathway, heading directly towards the lightning pool. He was dying to know what was going on over there. He'd let his curiosity grow and fester—finally he'd get the chance to quench this undying thirst for answers. What would he find, he wondered? Some powerful shinobi? Raiden himself? Something stranger still? Whatever it was, Ko was dying to see. If there was cover, he would take it. However, in a bath house like this, he doubted there would be much cover at all. He'd just have to hope he wasn't walking towards his doom.
 

Tsukino Nanami

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</B>Chapter 9: Gates of Hell<B>Bonus Chapter: The Voice of the Mountain

BGM: Realm of the Thunder God

Nanami finished her food, placing the plate upon the edge of the bath. Her eyes didn't point towards Ko, not one to look in on little boys as they bathe. Feeling the warm water soothe her aching muscles, the woman moved her hands up above the surface of the water and laced the fingers of both of her hands together. Upon doing this, she noticed that her fingernails were dyed black. This caused her to come to a pause, looking over her fingernails inquisitively. She didn't have much of a clue on what was happening. She thought she was seeing things, thus causing her to lean forward to wash her face. After wiping the water from her eyes, she looked down at her rippled reflection to notice her hair take on a strange, purple hue. This wasn't her normal hair color.

Moving her hand down the length of her hair, she noticed each hair upon her head grew progressively longer the more she stayed in the pool. Grabbing the tip of her hair, she moved it in front of her to be able to see the color of her hair. Queer. She has never realized her hair was this color. No, this wasn't an illusion nor was her memory failing her. Standing up on the pool, the woman quickly grabbed the plate that her food was on and used it to cover up her chest. Yes, the water caused her clothing to stick to her body and she doesn't particularly care to let others see. Indeed, she got undressed in front of Ko earlier, but that happened out of habit not realizing what she was doing.

She spent enough time relaxing in the waters. Something strange was going on in this temple and as much as she appreciated the hospitality, she didn't particularly care for things happening without her knowing why. Something piqued at her, thinking that it possibly had something to do with the strange electric room they were told not to go into. She knew Ko was interested as was she. She didn't like answers being unanswered, hence why she's moving along with the Isaki so she could find the answer to 'why'. Though, this is the second job she's on with the clan and has yet to receive payment for the first. She was also most likely not going to get paid for this one either. Too many more unpaid jobs and she's going to leave the Isaki in the dust, or possibly tear the family apart for poor practices. Yes, Tetsu seems like an interesting fellow as well as that Kyojin person. Yes. She could single-handedly take away all of Osore's followers. He was a selfish man and selfish men deserve torment.

Moving across the waters to where the entrance was, she noticed Ko standing by his entrance. She noticed him beckon to follow. Using the plate to cover her chest, the woman sighed for a moment and followed. She was going there anyway, so might as well follow-through with it. Upon following Ko, the woman stopped at the entrance to the Lightning Pool. The place looked dangerous with bolts of lightning streaking through the room and touching down in the water, electrifying it. Certainly, if either of them took a step into the water as the lightning struck, that may very well ruin their day of relaxation.

"Wait," she simply said to Ko. Yes, the boy was ready and raring to go, but Nanami knew rooms like this were extremely dangerous. Removing the plate from her chest, the woman decided to do an experiment. She tossed the plate, frisbee-style, into the pool of water on the other side of the threshold to see if Lightning would strike the plate, being that there was still water on the plate. As the plate left her hand, it was quickly replaced by her arm. Yes, she's quite modest once she has a clear head. Depending on how the lightning reacts to the plate will determine how they'll proceed.
 

Toraono Kuro

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Due to Nanami's experiment and the plate being wood with a bit of polished marble at it's base it went through a barrier of ambient energy before skipping across the near scalding hot waters to rest on the stone on the far side of the pool. Nanami would only now just notice she was far stronger than what she would have been used to about herself. Were Kotsuko to look himself over he would notice his hands were bigger and his hair thicker, he would possibly notice a small increase in his breathing capacity. His changes were in his physical capacity and not his senses however as Nanami had made different choices and therefore received more intense reactions from the springs. They could both detect the dense field of energy before them and feel the oppressive heat of the waters ahead. Would they dare cross the threshold?
 

Kazu

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Ko was glad the woman had decided to come with him. He would have gone forth by himself, but knowing that he had a partner in crime was pretty reassuring. The two of them made their way over to the entrance to the lightning-riddled bath, mere feet away from the site of their curiosity. Ko was about to enter, naive as he was to how challenging things could have been, when the woman stopped him. She tossed one of the plates They'd been using through the door frame, to see if anything was set to go off as they entered. That was smart, thought the young boy. As she tossed the plate, though, Ko noticed that it seemed to go a bit...further...than she probably had expected. Looking over at her, Ko noticed that she seemed far more muscle-bound than before, the springs obviously having had an effect on the woman. He had noticed earlier—probably because he'd been so focused on the goal which laid before him—but he'd also changed. His proportions were slightly bigger, and his hair had become more rugged and beastly. He wondered what the heck had been in that food? At this point it mattered little, as not being able to know what was in the room right in front of them was driving the young boy mad.

Ko looked back at Nanami, a look of concern on his face. "What do you think? We don't really have any other way to test it, do we..." Ko was beginning to realize what would have to happen. They were out of options, and the young boy would be damned if they'd come this far and didn't figure out what the heck was beyond this point. He swallowed, resigning himself to the decision that he'd just made. He spoke, after a moment, with something close to a lump in his throat. "I'm going to walk in..." Ko very well might be walking into certain death. To a normal person, that may have just been enough to turn around and give up. Ko wasn't normal. Ko's curiosity was unquenchable, unable to be sated, and unyielding in the face of even the greatest adversity. He wanted to know. "I want to know what's in there..." He didn't wait for Nanami to respond. He started walking. He walked straight into the energy field. It was too soon to feel anything. He simply submitted himself to whatever fate may have in store for him—he supposed the answer to what lay beyond death would also be worth it, in the end.
 

Tsukino Nanami

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</B>Chapter 9: Gates of Hell<B>Bonus Chapter: The Voice of the Mountain

Thunder Corridor​

Before crossing the threshold....
The plate made it through what appeared to be a barrier only to skip across the water before landing in the scalding hot waters within. What she just saw was quite queer What appeared to be a wooden plate, of course wouldn't attract electricity, but displaying information in regards to the barrier being there was a very important bit of information. Now this brings up a dilemma. Yes, while she now has long purple hair, black fingernails, and physically stronger than before -- it doesn't help her mental capacity much. Something like this seemed to require more mental aptitude than physical.

The boy asked the woman what she thought needed to be done. This caused the woman to glance at the pool further only to remember something. The man that took the group here offered prayers to each statue on their way here. Perhaps he was asking for safe passage through the temple and perhaps the rest of the temple also had barriers similar to this. Clearing her throat, the woman walked up to the barrier and clasped her hands together to offer a prayer to the gods of the mountain.
Lords of the Mountain;
I beg of thee to grant us safe passage
through this trial and tribulation.
Please forgive us for our transgression
and do not punish us for our trespasses.

We mean you no harm for we are
nothing but petty humans.
Forgive us for our curiosity
for you have given us something to look towards.

We thank you for your care and concern
We thank you for guiding us through
We thank you for standing tall
So let us pass through unscathed

The woman prayed silently.


And then suddenly...
The boy charged into the room without any regard for his own safety. Grumbling a bit to herself, she quickly arranged the sash to keep all of her no-no places from popping out or being exposed as she has to eventually perform acrobatics to save this wretched fool. "Of course, I'm completely naked under this robe and now I have to do some agile movement. I swear, this kid is so lucky," the woman stated before jumping in after the child, through the barrier. Forming a pool of liquid metal in her mouth, she spit out long darts of metal through the air, solidifying into senbon mid-air and having them stick to the walls away from them to act as a lightning rod of sorts, allowing the lightning to be attracted to that instead of their fleshy bodies. Grabbing the boy up close to her chest, she quickly changed directions to avoid the water. Since lightning is striking in the room, avoiding water is necessary.

Spitting out a couple more bolts to the opposite wall, using those for more lightning rods, the woman stops upon a bench and released the boy onto the bench. She covers her chest with her arms and grumbles. "Don't charge in head-strong, idiot!" she shouted at the boy. She looked around the room and wondered why there was lightning flashing in this room. It looked like your typical bathhouse. Strange place.

----
*OOC Note: The metal she used as senbon is a custom weapon of mine called "Kiss of the Dragon". If you have any questions about it, please consult my profile and dojo.
*OOC request: When we are put in an obstacle like this, could you possibly explain the composition of rooms and such so it isn't nearly as difficult to write up the RP? I had to take a guess on if there were walls or even a safe landing zone on the other side of the room (if there is even a continuation of the other side of the room). I'd like to request a bit more information in the posts to follow. Thanks.