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Old 06-13-2017, 11:12 PM   #1
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Default II: Bonds of Fire & Sea


Renchishin Hitoko awoke to the scent of flowers

II.
Bonds of Sea & Fire

[Hyuuga Kiyoko | Renchishin Hitoko]

"People may ridicule
My noble ideals as fantasy and naivete,
But with determination and effort
I shall reach my soaring ambitions.
I will have no regrets disdaining fleeting glory
Even when my hour comes.
"

Laid amidst an endless grassy plain stretched in mystery, low, dark clouds shifted with ominous integrity across a sky lit in a tapestry of stars. Peppered amongst the savanna were various flowerbeds and the light hush of wind. This is what caught the Renchishin’s attention, the quiet coo of air that made him feel as if he were a dead leaf floating in an autumn breeze. The warrior lay sprawled there for a moment, heavy ruby pupils staring off at the stars that hung above him. He began the process of making sure nothing upon his person was broken, wiggling his little toe and checking the muscles in his legs and torso. Lifting a hand to his line of vision, Hitoko placed his palm on the side of his face, confused over what transpired:

I…must have been out for quite sometime, now,” The Sennin muttered, realizing the sugegasa straw hat he once wore was no longer fashioned on his head, “…How long, have I been here…?

Hitoko sat up, slow, emitting a fatigued grunt in the process. But, once he was up, hands tracing the thick cords of his own dreaded hair as he tightened his ponytail once more, the wandering Dragon of Sunagakure realized how vast this plain was. Scattered in his surroundings were a plethora of miscellaneous quarry that accented the grassy field with a grim aura, for decomposing skeletons of varying sizes and shapes were near. Broken pillars and indistinguishable sculptures also filled the shinobi’s sight, whereas merchant carts, broken wheels, and even the sacred wooden gates of Miko shrines spouted from the field. But when the Renchishin narrowed his gaze, peering pass elder portraits caked in blood and trees snatched from earthen roots, he noticed something a bit more curious.

Perched on what he presumed to be a grassy hill was a silhouette of a rather large tree whose leaves danced in the distance. From where he was sitting he couldn’t make out the finer details of the hill and trees, but what he did notice was a subtle ring of candles creating a necklace about said hill, which spewed a faint cloud of smoke from the flames. It reminded him of how some monk monasteries burned incenses around their temples as a sign of greeting.

Hitoko remained there, for a moment, regaining and composing his thoughts in order to recall what happened. As the waves of memories replayed back to him like an indie film, his eyes widened in horror:

Kiyoko-dono!?

His voice echoed through the field, remembering how the magical beast had swallowed the two, whole.

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Old 06-14-2017, 09:32 AM   #2
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When Kiyoko’s eyes snapped open, she saw her arms and hands obstructed by the long, dark strands of her own hair. She’d landed on her side, the fire that had been surrounding her limbs had been snuffed out, but she was left generally unharmed, as far as she could tell. She leapt to her feet ready to fight anything that might meet her in this entirely unfamiliar landscape. She didn’t know where she was or how she’d gotten here, but she intended to find answers.

Surrounding her was a strange junkyard, or maybe graveyard was a more appropriate term. The kunoichi’s gaze shifted with pity upon the skeletal remains she saw on either side of her, those poor, unknown souls who’d fallen and been left without proper closure. She intended to take care of that herself, since no one else had bothered, once she figured out where she was and what sort of dangers lurked nearby. She took note of the upturned trees and broken stones and wondered what had happened to land her in such an unusual, morbid location. Just as she was piecing the memories together, her name tore through the silence of this strange place. Instinctively, she turned toward the sound and began moving, quickly but carefully, through the desolation.

“Renchishin-san?” Kiyoko called. She wasn’t sure if he needed aid, but the tone of his voice was certainly unusual. Her pace quickened in response.

Had she really been out for so long that night had fallen? The last thing she remembered was fighting the cute little furry critter who had stolen her comrade’s possession. Surely she hadn’t been incapacitated and left to die like several of the other out-of-place corpses here, had she? Kiyoko realized then that despite the number of skeletal remains she’d encountered in her trek across the vast space, the smell of decay was nowhere to be found. In fact, all of this felt very artificial.

A quick scan with her byakugan verified this assumption. She saw Hitoko standing not far away, now, thankfully unharmed. She saw, too, the chakra washing over everything in the region, including herself and her partner. It was almost blinding to look at, and her eyes squinted at the intensity of it, despite such reaction’s ineffectiveness for shielding her senses. She realized then, that this chakra appeared to be holding everything in place. She wasn’t sure of its origin, but if she was guessing right it worked like an anchor.

“Are you alright?” She had a hierarchy of concerns, but many questions. “Where are we?”
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Old 06-15-2017, 06:24 PM   #3
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I’m all right, Kiyoko-dono.

A sigh of relief left his lips as he stood to his feet, a hand placed against at his temples to massage the tension there:

But I am glad you’re safe, too.

The aroma of flowers whiffed through a brisk breeze as the Renchishin inhaled slow. Upon his exhale, such as a monk finding refuge in the calm of meditation, stress looked to have lifted from the man’s whole being as his thoughts found their center. In order to ascertain the situation, Hitoko was in need of steadying his mind and spirit. Arms crossed above his stomach with an elbow in palm and fingers cradling chin, the ruby irises of the Renchishin glinted beneath the starlight that beamed from sky as they scanned the objects surrounding the two. They’d been swallowed whole by the magical beast, which was Hitoko’s plan all along. It was their ominous serene whereabouts that brought confusion to the Sennin.

The obvious, of course, is our arrival at the belly of the beast,” Hitoko started, his legs sturdy in motion as he began to pace back and forth, “But, this place doesn’t look to operate in the same fashion of any stomach I know of.

The man almost whispered pocket-dimension or teleportation technique, but both answers sounded even stranger than he was prepared for. The diverse items of fallen travelers and remains of other brutes and trinkets were scattered as far as his eyes could see, but he kept an eye on the horizon, taking note of the large tree that hung there like a castle. Hitoko lifted an index finger in preparation to punctuate a point, until, that is, something of interest caught his attention. Without so much of word the Sennin sprinted off beyond Kiyoko and knelt down a few meters away from her, his hyper large grin more ecstatic than usual:

Oh Buddha be praised, my tansu!” The Renchishin chuckled aloud, “I thought I lost this thing forever.

Chocolate hued hands inspected a mobile storage cabinetry decorated by ancient textiles and lotus flower patterns accented by dragons. The storage cabin itself was like a wooden backpack, one that was a quarter of the Renchishin’s size but held many drawers, shelves and cupboards on its frame. Hitoko slung the tansu over his shoulder, the two straps allowing it to hang on his back as he nodded:

When that thing initially ate me, I lost my traveling box,” As a wandering Sennin, this was a necessity, he had underwear in this thing too, “…This should also mean—

A giddy murmur came from Hitoko as he swiped another object from the floor and held it skyward in triumph:

Another fragment of the Susamajii Ryuu has been acquired! Again

The Renchishin coughed, clipping the relic at the edge of his sash in silence. Through his excitement, he sounded like a video game, or something, which was a bit embarrassing. But this was the item he was in search for, another section of the legendary spear of his ancestor: two down, three to go.

Uh…forgive me, Kiyoko-dono,” Hitoko stammered with a nervous grin, turning a curious eye to his comrade as his brow curled, “Wait, why…

…Why are you squinting?
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:39 PM   #4
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“There’s so much chakra here,” Kiyoko began, not fully able to describe exactly what she was seeing. This had been a trip filled with firsts, and the unexpected surprises just kept coming. “I’m having trouble figuring out where it’s coming from or its purpose.”

She rubbed the bridge of her nose for a moment with her fingers and thumb, hoping to alleviate the discomfort caused by her heightened vision in this place. Despite the ache, she intended to figure out how to get out of here, now that they’d managed to obtain their quarry. She had to assume that together they’d figure out how this place worked and reverse the flow that had landed them here. It was just a matter of getting her bearings and setting them up on the right path.

It seemed completely ridiculous that they’d been swallowed by that creature and found themselves somehow trapped in another time and place, but there wasn’t another explanation that the kunoichi could use to explain it. As the seconds ticked by, she remembered with increased clarity what had happened to land her here. Wherever ‘here’ was, anyway.

“One would think that little monster would have been larger, considering the amount of… stuff it has consumed,” the Hyuuga mused. She approached her partner, pleased to see that not only had he found the artifact he’d been seeking, but he’d secured it to his person so that they’d be less likely to have to come back here again. Thank goodness. “All of this chakra that I see blanketing everything around… I think it might be meant to keep us here.”

At that, the kunoichi tensed. “Renchishin-san,” she whispered just barely loud enough for him to hear. “Someone just appeared about a hundred meters that way,” she gestured with a slight movement of her hand. She couldn’t be sure which direction to call it, given that they didn’t seem to be on a familiar plane any longer.

“Ahh. Perhaps the chakra helps as a sensory technique. He’s coming right for us.”
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:08 PM   #5
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Meant to keep them there?

Renchishin Hitoko’s hands tightened about the straps of the tansu, curious ruby eyes glinting beneath the starlight. Kiyoko mentioned an intense array of chakra blanketing the whole area, which made Hitoko wonder if this place was some sort of construct meant to act as a storage unit to the magical beast’s stomach. If this were true, which, it seemed to be the case, then his next question was simple: who or what created the monster, and for what use? Throughout his career as a shinobi, there were many unearthly and unnatural situations he came across, such as immortals and deities, but the mystery of this plane was a first. Spirit Island seemed to be a haven for weird occurrences, Hitoko thought, and he felt this wasn’t even the plateau of how odd things could become—which peeked his eccentric fascination even further.

Upon Kiyoko becoming tense, Hitoko’s gaze befell the path she gestured toward, which so happened to be the direction that that large tree on the grassy hilltop was perched at.

Someone? Appeared?

Her choice of words was what caught the Renchishin’s attention. Since his straw hat was nowhere to be found, the Sennin brought the edge of his hand to the bridge of his brow to block out some of the area’s light, narrowing the focus of his version to get a better look at the silhouette coming their way. As the figure grew in size as it arrived closer to the two, Hitoko realized that it was, actually, an older man with deep brown hair and a thick beard racing toward them at a full sprint. Long sand hued robes fluttered from his person as the man’s hands waved in a frantic manner skyward. Thick circular glasses hung at the brim of his nose, whereas a rather bright colored amulet hung about his neck, acting as a clip that pieced together his robes. In one hand was the traveling Sennin’s sugegasa hat, which he was relieved to see:

O-oi! That man found my hat!” The warrior exclaimed, cheerful, “What a nice guy.

What Hitoko began to realize, then, was the amulet that the man wore held a striking resemblance to the brooch the magical beast had. That, and, the robes he wore looked similar to—

—A…Dustmen?

Of Kaze no kuni, Hitoko’s homeland. The next thing he noticed, though, was the panicked look highlighting the man’s face:

Be quick!” The robed man called, “IT can mask its' chakra signature! Move from it’s path, now!

—And that’s when an ominous breath of air crept down Renchishin Hitoko’s spine.

Enshrouded by a tapestry of stars and cradled in the breeze that exhaled onto the valley stood a behemoth of a creature that seemed to have materialized from thin air. Mirroring the description of ancient guardian lion-dogs of imperial tombs was a chimera whose blood-crimson mane hung from a head fronted by a lion with a serpentine-esque body bolstered by canine legs and snake like tail. Dwarfing the three beneath its large shadow, this beast bore bronze bands latched to each extremity; its royal blue eyes affixed upon the Renchishin who peered back at it with a rather oblivious, although enamored, look of curiosity.

A komainu?!

A mythical lion-like creature that are usually seen guarding the entrance to shrines, Hitoko was pointing like a child seeing a beast of fable woven to flesh. The crimson fiend lifted a large paw to sky, its claws shown like cleaver blades prepared to pounce, but the Sennin was unbothered, unlike the robe wearing man who kept running in their direction:

Come this way! To the tree! We must escape!

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Old 06-20-2017, 10:12 PM   #6
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Kiyoko subtly adjusted her stance as she watched the unfamiliar man approach, moving into a position where she’d be readily able to spring into action if necessary. He was, in fact, waving Hitoko’s hat, but she wasn’t ready to trust anyone in this strange situation, particularly when her senses were being somewhat hampered by an overload of chakra. She glanced questioningly between the two men when her partner seemed to notice something familiar about the stranger.

“Do you know him, Renchishin-san?” It would have been quite the omission from his unbelievable tale that he forgot a person that had also been with him on that last trip to Seirei no Shima, but at this point nothing could be truly surprising.



That was, of course, until a giant mythical beast emerged from nothingness to stand in front of them. Apparently, this yelling newcomer knew of the danger. It was plainly written in his eyes. The kunoichi’s brow furrowed as she stared up at the creature. It, like the furry little monster that had swallowed them and forced them to this place, appeared to be a being born of pure chakra. That explained how it had managed to escape her awareness just now, anyway. She was not terribly pleased by any of it.

Kiyoko didn’t know what this creature was or why it was here, but she could read into its body language well enough to know that it meant trouble. She wasn’t sure what the man had to do with all of this mess, either, but he was surely of better use to explain what was happening if he remained alive. So it was, as the newly arrived man just ran past her that the Hyuuga sprang to action. The lion-like creature was preparing to bring its massive paw down upon Hitoko, and she wasn’t about to let that happen.

“Get back,” she advised the others as she sprang forward in a blur, leaped up, and prepared to use all of the momentum she could muster to push more force into her strike. She brought her fist around and down, pounding it into the ground with explosive force meant to send the beast off-balance. The earth cracked and shattered beneath her fist, her chakra blowing a crater into the ground and causing the massive beast to stumble.
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Old 06-21-2017, 01:05 AM   #7
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Eh?

For a moment, Hitoko blinked.

N-no, I don’t know him per se, but his attire is reminiscent of an ancient Kaze no Kuni—O-oi, Kiyoko-dono wait a moment!

The Renchishin was left there on the field as Kiyoko sprung to action, the warrior’s outstretched hand grasping nothing but air as his partner moved in a swift blur of speed. He needed to speak quicker, he noted, for although the great beast that appeared in front of them was poised to strike, he noticed how sluggish the creature moved. This was due in part to its mass, which was primarily why Hitoko didn’t look too concerned about its imposing physique. The thing that the Sennin was most worried about was its connection with the squishy magical beast they’d encountered earlier. When Kiyoko’s attack sent a shockwave of explosive force through the crimson fiend and split the earth below, Hitoko’s intuitive ruby gaze was focused on its’ reaction. Although her blow held enough excessive power to incapacitate any other foe, the beast’s form jiggled as it reinforced its center of gravity.

The shock absorption translates?

As the massive beast stabilized itself, the man with the ancient robes appeared at the Renchishin’s side with sweat upon his brow. Pushing his glasses to frame his face better, the man’s royal blue eyes looked from Hyuuga to Renchishin in disbelief:

What is she doing!?” A shift in chakra whirled about his person, amulet humming a low glow, the sand brown robes he wore fluttered with the motion of his hand, “Those types of attacks won’t work on it!

As if manipulating the space around him, the mysterious man swept a hand upward just as the beast sprang forth in retaliation to Kiyoko. The ground below erected into a huge pillar of earthen material and flowerbed, jettisoning up toward the gargantuan monster before unraveling into several small pillars with spearheads for tips. The beast, though, attempted to catch the kunoichi while she was still airborne, large bladed claws swiping downward in an attempt to knock her straight out of the sky.

We must exit with haste comrade, for I am incapable of subduing Won-qu for long—

—What are you doing!?


Sandal clad feet echoed quiet footsteps that progressed up the side of the dividing pillars quicker than the man’s eyes could follow. Vaulting high from the construct and inverting himself while in midair, the Dragon Sennin intercepted the creature’s claw with his own force. Landing in the palm of the titan’s paw, leg muscles tensed with strength as he stopped the momentum of the beast’s arm in mid swing. This act of power left the bearded man breathless, bewildered blue eyes glistening in awe at the scene. Hitoko, squatted, adjusted his footing while peering towards Kiyoko, tansu clad on his back and everything. Just as she would not stand idle to allow the predator to bring a massive claw down upon him, Hitoko refused to allow the same to happen to her.

My heels!” The Renchishin shouted, “To get back to the ground, use my heels!

Hitoko sprang toward Kiyoko and shifted his body airborne, tucking into a side flip with legs pointed her way. His idea, here, was for her to place her feet on the soles of his and utilize him as a sturdy basis to maneuver while they were in the air since, well, he hadn’t activated his flight technique as of yet. The pillars the robed elder man manifested evolved from spearheads to shackles, clasping against the beast’s torso and arms in order to lift it higher above the trio.

Come with me!

The man’s scarred hands moved in a circular pattern as chakra shifted around him once more, where another pillar broke off from the initial one, molding into a clay like bowl below the kunoichi. He would use this to lower her to him. By the urgency in the man’s voice, one could hear the light tinge of strain in his voice as he bent the environment to his will. He beckoned, one last time:

I can explain everything, but we must leave. Now!
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Old 06-21-2017, 05:41 PM   #8
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Well, that was interesting.

Kiyoko honestly hadn’t been sure what the reaction might have been from the beast when she’d blasted the ground beneath its feet, but this certainly wasn’t outside the realm of possibility. While it hadn’t fully stumbled, the similarities between this monster and the tiny one they’d initially encountered were more evident by the second. She’d managed to do enough to garner its attention, at least, so that much was a success. The kunoichi had sprung skyward again after delivering her blow, still very aware of her position and the shifting awareness of the lion-like creature. She’d aimed to slide just past those claws and to launch herself off its furry limb to find safety again, but Hitoko had rendered all of that effort unnecessary.

She noticed the correlation between the pillars and the movements of the newly arrived man, as well. He seemed to have plenty of chakra and was manipulating the landscape to his whim. It struck her as strange, since her partner seemed to recognize him as a relation of Sunagakure. His control of the world around them didn’t seem limited to wind or sand or the other sorts of elements she knew the village to be famous for mastering. That was curious.

If nothing else, he seemed quite familiar with the beast, and had an explanation to offer. She merely had to reach him and get moving. Despite the predicament of being somewhat out of control and airborne, the Hyuuga was remarkably calm about the entire ordeal. Here she was in a strange place, dealing with completely ludicrous monsters. For all she knew, she was dreaming, because there was no logic in any of this, as far as she could tell. There was no sense in panicking now.

“No need to worry for me, Renchishin-san,” Kiyoko called. She wasn’t sure what he meant to do with his heels, but she was more than comfortable in a fight, even while midair. She knew she didn’t have to worry about him, either. He could fly after all.

Thus, she simply trusted her instincts and her body to get the job done. She reached a hand out to one of the pillars that had sprung from the earth under the stranger’s influence, and applied just enough chakra through her fingertips to maintain a hold that would allow her to swing her body around and down. She slid gracefully, as though in a dance, using the pillar as a pivot point to direct her momentum downward and back the way she’d come.

Once her feet touched down again, she continued to run in the direction of the stranger. “Explaining while moving would be helpful, I think. This thing has something to do with the little creature that landed us here. This place is filled with chakra and you’re capable of manipulating it all. I suspect, then, that you know how to get out.”
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Old 07-19-2017, 04:39 PM   #9
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Frantic arms waved through the air:

Wa-wait! But I need you for my own momentum so I can maneuver to safety—yup, yup, okay.

Alas, before he could get his explanation out, the capable Kiyoko all ready rendezvoused with the mysterious man who was shifting the environment around like no one’s business. This was curious. But this left the Renchishin bound by the whims of gravity as he plummeted toward the grassy plain.

There she goes…

Dark fingers clasped tighter around the cords of his tansu, the warrior’s attire fluttering with the brisk wind as his mind scanned through the many options he held for a safe landing. To active the flight technique once more would bring much more stress to his being than necessary, especially when utilized in quick succession. Besides, he’d gone his whole life without the need for flight, so he mulled over simply bracing his legs upon impact with the ground as a creative solution to this scenario. The thing was, regardless of what he’d decide, gravity left the man idle. Swooping through the air in his descent as he cut through sky, Hitoko’s ruby eyes peered up toward the large beast as the earth meant to keep it shackled began to crumble. With Kiyoko away, or at least far from the beast for a moment, it allowed the Renchishin to further analysis the lion-dog chimera.

Well, looks like you got this, Hitoko,” He muttered to himself, a small grin thinning his lips, “Maybe this beast’s vulnerability lies in lightning as well.

He was prepared to test this theory out.

But on the opposite side of the plain, the distance between the mysterious man and dragon became further and further as he kept running toward the tree beyond the horizon. The bearded man turned royal blue eyes upon the kunoichi before peering in the direction that they’d left Hitoko. His feet shifted his momentum as he skidded to a halt, eyes growing wide with confusion as sweat began to form at his forehead:

Your friend, he’s insane!

Frustrated, he lifted an index finger up toward the beast as the shackles crumbled into nothing. As it fell toward the ground, large claws swiped toward the Sennin. Kiyoko had asked for an explanation, so he gave her the abridged version:

I am Shishi,” The Lion-Eating Poet, but he left that part out due to time, “And that is Won-qu!

This wasn’t explaining anything, though:

I am a Dustmen of the Wind Country, a scientist have you, and that is an experiment gone completely wrong.

There was urgency in his voice, as if he didn’t know how much longer the dreadlocked warrior had to live before being ripped to shreds by the beast. His voice was seasoned with experience, though, as if he’d spoken to many others who’d been trapped in the space and had watched them perish right before his eyes. Shishi’s attention was back on the Hyuuga once more, his spectacles glistening beneath the starlight above as he lifted a curious eyebrow:

Wait, you can see the chakra used to build this construct?

But that’s when the obvious hit him, he was in conversation with a—

—You are a Hyuuga!?” Hope highlighted his eyes, then, “You are capable of halting the flow of chakra, correct?

The last Hyuuga that Shishi had come across was unable to do so. Continuing a light jog toward the tree in the distance, the bearded scientist beckoned for the Leaf-Nin to hurry:

For your comrade’s sake, we must get to the yggdrasill—that, huge tree—upon the hill top with haste! It acts as a seal I once created to perpetuate and recycle chakra coursing through this area.

Come!
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Old 07-21-2017, 10:42 AM   #10
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"Of course he is," the kunoichi calmly acknowledged the stranger's claims of her partner's questionable mental state. What other explanation was there? Who else would have flown to Konohagakure,
directly into the Hyuuga clan compound, all to drag her out into this wild and crazy mess? "He wouldn't be with me otherwise."

Kiyoko was careful to keep watch over her partner, despite the thought that he'd surely lost his mind. She intended no significant harm to come to him, and if necessary, she could be at his side in the blink of an eye. For now, though, she sought to get to the root of the problem while Hitoko provided a spectacular diversion. For the moment, he seemed to be relatively fine. She was going to have to depend on his skill, experience, and strength of spirit to keep him safe just a little longer.

"An experiment gone wrong?" the Hyuuga muttered, mostly to herself. She'd seen such a thing take on a good many forms in her career. This one probably qualified as most bizarre. She wasn't sure if the experiment had been this artificial world made of chakra or the creature, Won-qu, itself. Perhaps both.

"Yes, yes," Kiyoko quickly answered to the man's many questions about her identity and abilities. She had become rather accustomed to such inquiries, so the answers came rather naturally, if not dismissively, as she was understandably more concerned with the well being of her partner, still tangling with the monster behind them.

Shishi managed to capture her attention again with talk of a tree that recycled chakra. That sounded fascinating, terrifying, and incredible. If she understood his excitement over her identity correctly, he needed her to stop the flow of that chakra.

"Halting the movement of chakra at the tree will destroy this place... and the creature?" Kiyoko wasn't sure exactly how this worked since the entire area was so inundated with chakra that she was having trouble following the flow. She suspected that Won-qu probably had its own chakra to work with, and would survive an attack on the tree that served as the base of it all, but the change would give them a chance to conquer it.

The kunoichi thought back to the furry little creature that had started this entire mess. It had stolen the Renchishin artifact, ignored their attacks, and landed them here. The victory over the shinobi (temporary though she intended it to be) had taken an immense amount of chakra and now even more appeared to be swirling everywhere around them. She'd never seen anything quite like it and curiosity got the better of her. "What was the initial source of all of this chakra?"
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