From Whence You Came [Plot|Solo]

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From Whence You Came [Plot|Solo]

Post by Roku on Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:01 pm

Though the red, circular clock hanging on the wall indicated the sun had barely even begun to set, a quarter to 19:00, Rokumaru knew he would need to be ready before the time he was told to expect. On his shoddy-wooden coffee table lay his weapons, a handful of shuriken alongside several kunai, Rokumaru’s hitai-ate laying on top of a crisp brown scrap of cloth as the polish rubbed into it began to dry. Taking a kunai in hand the redhead carefully dragged a smaller scrap of cloth against its sharp steel edges, wiping away his fingerprints and angling the weapon to reflect the light cast by his dim fluorescent wall lights against the wall. Many of instructors at the Academy warned against polishing your weapons and armor to a pristine condition as a shinobi was not meant to attract attention in such ways. Then again, there was no explicit regulation against the practice, and Rokumaru was not a covert sort of ninja. The boy dragged the shiny weapon in his hand against the edge of the table slowly, feeling the sharpened edge displace the wood beneath as he added the slightest pressure. The table bore dozens of these scars from Roku’s constant weapon maintenance, but the blades themselves carried only the nicks and scratches that accompanied being thrown into wooden training dummies and cacti.

When each weapon was shined to his satisfaction they were carefully placed into their respective pouches meant solely for the purpose of carrying them. The five kunai went into place tip-down into a pouch, his fingers slipping them into the loose straps to keep them in place and not jangling against each other, before the pouch was buttoned close. The same was done with his ten shuriken that went into the slightly smaller pouch, these weapons held much more securely against each other to fit so many of the small projectiles inside. Rising to his feet Roku tied the kunai pouch around his right thigh for easy access, the shuriken pouch occupying a place just below it, and the boy took a few steps before adjusting both to a suitable comfort level. The clock chimed seven times, marking that the time to be ready was passed, but no one stood at his door yet. Going to the single bedroom of the apartment that he technically was now responsible for paying for Rokumaru retrieved his go bag, placing a single set of clothing bundled into a tight, small package inside along with several water bottles frozen from the ice inside and a single book, hidden under it all. This bag was placed by the entrance; he was told to pack light, but he was almost worried this wasn’t light enough.

Ready, but forced to wait for the late arrival, Rokumaru thought again to the rent he would need to pay at the end of the month. From what the landlady had said- a horribly slouched old woman that was actually rather energetic and boisterous for her age, especially when it came to collecting overdue rent- it would only be equivalent to a few D-Rank missions, but he would need to apply for them immediately after he returned if he did not want to be stuck with the worst missions. He had seen more than enough young ninja throughout the years doing such menial tasks that they had to be some sort of punishment; sweeping the sand from store entrances, for example, was one exercise in futility that stood out in his mind.

A single, but by no means quiet, knock was what announced the arrival he was waiting for and glancing at the clock revealed he was only ten minutes late, the near-punctuality putting Rokumaru’s nerves on vibrate. Standing up, taking the now-dried Hitai-ate from the table and wrapping it’s black straps behind his neck, he strided over towards the door and opened to greet the man he was to meet.

“Father”, the redhead said with a nod towards the much taller, much tanner man that looked down at him with an impassive face, Roku’s eyes on the man’s dusty grey pants. Katsuo actually returned the nod, sharp-grey eyes studying the headband around Roku’s neck that glistened in the dim light, stealing only a small look at the twin red braids of hair on each side of Rokumaru’s head before sweeping pst the boy into his apartment. The boy closed the door behind him quietly, unsure of what to expect from this short trip.

It had been a few months since seeing the man, and Roku used the man’s silent observation of his son’s residence to stare at his form. It was only when standing close by could anyone see the resemblance that frail, pale Rokumaru shared with his father, standing over six-and-a-half feet with skin a dark bronze that his son was incapable of mimicking. From his father Roku received a sharp facial structure with angular features, eyes that seemed blank until they bore down on you with an alien intensity, but much more intimidating steel-grey orbs occupied his eyes rather than the warm brownish-red of Rokumaru’s.

From there, nothing else about his appearance had been inherited from his father; certainly not his impressive build and stature, or even the strong immune system that allowed the man to grow so strong. Instead, the rest of his appearance were from another region entirely: whereas Katsuo was born from hundreds of generations of desert-dwellers, tan and robust from the unavoidable heat and danger of the dunes, Rokumaru shared the much less-refined blood of those from Hi no Kuni, courtesy of his beloved mother. The boy’s hair was her own deep-crimson shade rather than his father’s black that was beginning to form silver strands, and the two braids he wore were a perfect imitation of the ones she had once worn. He had spent around ten minutes earlier today tying and untying them just to find the perfect length and braid, something he did every time he expected to see his father.

Katsuo had apparantly finished his brief glance around the boy’s home and moved back towards the door, standing beside it with crossed arms as Rokumaru grabbed his go-bag and shouldered its straps. The two Suna-nin left the small apartment together, Rokumaru taking a few moments to lock the several deadbolts on his door, before hurrying down the street to catch up with Katsuo.

Normally it was frowned upon to leave the village for anything that was not mission-related, especially when Genin were concerned, but Roku expected few were willing to protest when Katsuo requested permission for this short event. Thinking about how much political power the dark-featured man walking just ahead of him had was nearly as frightening as the Ninjutsu the skilled Jounin could perform; even now Roku could feel its influence from the sheer heat his father radiated, the only kind of heat that actually made Roku break into a sweat. It was some sort of private game to Katsuo when it came to that aura of heat that he let wrap around him, a tool in and of itself used mostly for intimidation. Had he not seen it used for much more than simple intimidation in the past, Roku would have been vocal about it being used in his presence. Never when the two were around each other that a sickening heat wouldn’t creep itself into his lungs, wrapping around his pale frame, actually requiring effort to simply breathe sometimes.

“What have you brought with you?”, Katsuo questioned the redhead, having gave him no idea of what was needed for a trip like this.

Rokumaru shifted a strap that was falling back into place before answering. “My kunai and shuriken, frozen water and a spare set of clothing.” A book, as well, but saying so would have that distraction burned to a crisp in seconds.

“You’re wearing clothes. Why would you need another set? Do you think someone in that desert will give a second glance to dirty clothing?” For a moment that cloud of heat seemed to churn, warming itself even further, before suddenly evening out, and Rokumaru nodded his head to show he had heard.

The gates of Sunagakure were ahead, several small lines of people being sent through by Suna-nin checking their identification and belongings, but Katsuo moved past the queue entirely towards a Chuunin holding a clipboard, writing down the names and merchant’s inventory items his fellows were reporting. None of those waiting in line looked at the huge man cutting the line with irritation, either looking in some random direction or talking quietly between themselves. Rokumaru knew the were wrapped in the same heat that he felt, and did not blame them for their cowed behavior.

Katsuo exchanges a few short words with the Chuunin, the Gate-Guard seeming hesitant before something the Jounin said made him immediately apologize and grant them both passage through the gates. Katsuo exited the village without a look back towards Roku and the boy followed quickly after.

They walked until the tall, ochre sandstone walls of Suna were obscured by a distant dune before his father stopped suddenly, turning to Rokumaru. “For nearly eight years you have hidden behind those walls you adore so much. Eight years of coddling, having your every need taken care of like some spoiled noblewoman.” Katsuo had dropped his impassive demanour, his temper making itself known immediately. “Eight years, and like a stray dog given scraps and attention you’ve become a lapdog.”

Faster than he could react Katsuo reached out a heavy hand to grasp the headband wrapped around Rokumaru’s neck, pulling it just enough to make the boy choke and stumble before wiping his thumb across its polished metal. Oily trails of fingerprints marred the once-perfect hitai-ate, and with a shove the taller man knocked his son to the ground. “Do you think that is your home, Rokumaru?” hissing his name in an almost mocking way. “No. You remember your home.”

And, pulling himself back to his feet and silently wiping his eyes, Rokumaru remembered everything. It was impossible to forget everything he had seen and felt while wrapped in the same blanket of heat that surrounded him now, and just like back then, the boy began to shake.

“A man is like metal ore, Roku,” his father droned in a flat voice as he stood over his son, encroaching on his personal space. “Only through fire, sweat and blood can it be crafted into a weapon. And you’ve not been in a forge for nearly eight years.” Turning on his heels Katsuo again began to walk away, and with shaky legs Rokumaru hurried after.

Even then, the man did not stop his lecturing. “Hidden Villages have their uses, but they protect their inhabitants from the world outside. From themselves. What is the point of growing stronger yourself if there are dozens of others to take your place? What does someone learn from the comforts of civilization? When those walls fall, what becomes of those who cowered in its shade, hidden from the world outside?” Throughout his words Rokumaru walked silently behind him. “I will not allow my seed to grow fat and complacent. Nor will I allow it to play at being a shinobi.”

“So you’re going to make me watch another massacre or two?” Roku bit back. Instead of another blast of heat, to be expected from provoking his father’s temper, a shiver ran down his spine from the genuine chuckle that escaped the huge, tan man. He received no answer.

The two walked for hours through the desert towards the north, not a word being spoken between them. There was a feeling of deja-vu as the two traveled in silence; years past, before they became citizens of the village, they had walked countless miles of these ever-shifting dunes. Thankfully, this time, it was not done while accompanied by a warband.

It was only when the moon had reached it’s zenith, beginning to descend back down behind the horizon did Katsuo finally stop on a seemingly random dune that barely rose higher than its neighbors. “You will make camp here. I have something that must be done, and will return for you in the morning.”

He turned to leave, but Rokumaru called out to him. “What are we doing out here? What game are you trying to play!?” He was being told nothing of the current situation, and any time he was ignorant of something it began to stoke his temper. Apparantly it was enough to even make him demand more of his father.

Turning around, and stalking back over to his suddenly meek son, Katsuo’s face twisted in what he would call a smirk but the redhead would call a sneer. “Sleep while you can. Tomorrow you’ll find yourself in a forge.”

This time, Roku said nothing. He dug a small hallow into the sand and lay inside, letting the walls trail back into place until he was mostly buried in the dune itself. The night was silent, a full moon leering over the desert, but Rokumaru was unable to calm his mind enough to fall asleep.

WC: 2246

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Re: From Whence You Came [Plot|Solo]

Post by Roku on Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:29 pm

Rokumaru’s father was a difficult subject to think about, for many reasons, and he dwelled on those as he lay back on the lone dune he was left on and stared up at the setting moon. The day before was spent resting at home, knowing whatever his father wanted to do with him would probably be a bit uncomfortable, mentally and physically. Not tired enough to squeeze a few extra hours of sleep in, Roku spent the time in thought instead. Dreams were always too vivid after spending even a short time in the cloud of Shakuton that it’s users could emit.

After coming to this village, it was a shock to discover that life could have been more than a bleak life of survival in the deserts, taking what you needed or just wanted at will. And so, with a newfound perspective, it was hard for the child version of Rokumaru to think of why his father had lived a life of war and sin instead of a calm, peaceful life in a settlement. The man was strong enough to defend himself and his people easily from the common sort of bandit and shinobi that could be found among the dunes of Kaze no Kuni, and could have built a village similar to those that hugged the coastline and the borders.

Years later, now actually educated enough to know about the world and what kind of people it could produce, it was clear to Roku that Katsuo was simply a nihilistic hedonist; without a single life goal or purpose beyond satisfying his most basic whims and needs. The man had been born in a time of disunity, where justice and law was decided by the strongest person around, a time when it was beneficial to be selfish and violent. Hopefully people like this were a relic of that past age, despite how much they tried to force their worldview onto others.

Katsuo did not like Rokumaru for many reasons, whether warranted or not. The most glaring was the sheer resemblance the boy had to his mother, a woman who did not return his love and instead gave hers to someone else. Perhaps he just desired a pretty plaything and found it in a fragile civilian, or perhaps the man had truly loved that red haired foreigner and spared her life because of it. His reasons were known only to him, but his thoughts were apparant; Rokumaru was a byproduct of his failure at love, and a constant reminder of that shame.

There were many other reasons, of course. The man was rather prejudiced against those who came from more hospitable regions, such as Hi no Kuni, and thought that they could not hope to survive the rigors of life that he himself had. Having a child with pale skin that refused to darken, constantly sickly and shy to the point of invisibility, was just a confirmation. But still, Katsuo made some small effort to cultivate the boy into something stronger than he was, and perhaps had the boy lived through childhood while still traveling with that group Roku’s outlook on life would have been as bleak and selfish as his own.

And then the Kazekage had come, his arrival putting an end to the lifestyle Katsuo had known since childhood. Even inside the village, surrounded by luxuries and friendly people, he would satisfy his primal urges through a career as a shinobi. Plenty of Suna-nin were capable of creating the Shakuton element, but those who used theirs with restraint were admired and respected. Those who did not were widely known, and among them all none could claim to be more cruel than Katsuo. His few friends were holdovers from his old gang, the number thinning through the years as they inevitably died or began to reform into productive people, and having a reputation for violent behavior along with antisocial tendencies made the man almost a pariah among his peers. Thankfully, for him at least, the Kazekage respected power, and had no qualms about his methods so long as the law of the village was followed to the letter.

In contrast, those who did know of Katsuo also knew of the son who was his near opposite. The boy was meek and polite, garnering plenty of pity when his past was known, but what stood out was his enthusiasm when it came to the village. Rokumaru made it clear who his loyalty belonged to, and it was not just to himself unlike his father. A weakness, in Katsuo’s eyes, as no one should be dependent on other people, nor should the weak be taken care of by the strong.

Adding in the fact that the man had given his mother an embarrassing, very painful death, a large part of Rokumaru despised the man with a passion that could end lives.

Yet, there was a part of him deep down that idolized the man’s strength and power. Whether people looked on him with hatred or fear, it was undeniable that they still acknowledged that he was someone important. A frail and weak thing himself, Roku had known nothing but acceptance at best and disgust at worst, and sometimes he wished he was born as the man his father wanted. Strong, confident, willing to take what he wanted.

There was also the very real chance that it would have resulted in him becoming just like the man; as a child he craves attention like everyone else, and had found it with his mother after being rejected by his father. Instead of sitting quietly with his mother, listening to her sing and tell stories of what her life had been like, he could have been training with his father in Ninjutsu and Taijutsu. Learning how to kill and take, instead of clinging to what childhood could be found in the desert.

It was for the best, in all seriousness. His father’s cynicism had not failed to pass down to him, but rather than lash out at the world for being flawed and living only for himself, Roku instead saw what was important in life. Peace; a calm and serene life where everyone deserved a chance to find happiness.

Unfortunately, for some people, happiness was a charred carcass that was once a fat merchant or a writhing and screaming woman pinned beneath them. The world would never know peace so long as there were strong people that took advantage of their weaker peers, all while others who were strong looked on and were thankful it was not them being taken advantage of. A world like that was possible, even today, if only those who were strongest could actually enforce law and order to those who would harm others.

Senju Hashirama could have subjugated every Bijū with his powers, and alongside the newly-formed Hidden Leaf Village conquer the known world in its entirety. Instead, the man allowed rivals to grow their own power, hostile villages to sprout up over a span of years and threaten his influence. And at the end of it all, Hashirama believed that all it would take to unite the world in peace was love.

But was it love that a shinobi used to defend them self from attack? Would love shield a defenseless family from the horrors of the world? Obviously not. Violence could only be stopped with further violence, and only the threat of punishment would ever keep the dregs of society in line. The Will of Fire was a philosophy admired by scholars worldwide and there were several books on the subject itself, that Konohagakure was a close family that looked out and cared for one another.

The problem was that there existed a type of person that will simply take advantage of kindness and love. And when respect and understanding was no longer sufficient, more noble and respectable people can only hope that their strength and power is enough to match up against their opponent; what did love matter if the people who loved others were corpses made by those who only loved themselves?

That was where Katsuo and Rokumaru were alike and different in so many ways. The son believed that the strong were obligated to defend the weak, whereas the father believed the weak would not have to bow to the whims of their betters if they were better themselves. Sunagakure to the son was something to be protected and nurtured, while the village to the father was a means to several ends but only that.

Rokumaru trailed his hands through the cool sand as he thought of the future he would create. Through the power of chakra, a strong chakra reserve the only gift his father truly gave him, he could become just as strong as anyone else was. Then, when no others could stand against him, Rokumaru could give those people that dragged society down the leashes they deserved. Families could grow in peace, people living their entire lives without having to worry about invasions from foreign lands or criminals in their own. Where one would serve to better society, creating a better world for the generations that would follow, or they would be punished until were repentant for their deeds, and given a painless end.

An end to pain; that was what Rokumaru desired above all. And until those that lived only to cause pain were able to be controlled and disposed of, there could not be a world that lived in peace.

There were likely thousands of others that thought like he did, that they knew what was best for the world. But was it best for the world, or for themselves? Too many would simply be corrupted by the control they had over others, believing themselves better without question. The clans of shinobi were notorious for this: until recently it was them, and the several Daimyo, that were looked up to for guidance and protection. Instead they selfishly cultivated power for themselves, seeing the world only for what they can take for themselves.

Roku knew the path he must walk, and all those that must be dragged into a new era kicking and screaming. Only until the power of the five villages were consolidated into one, with that power unrelenting in its protection to the good and dealing justice to the wicked, could something like the Will of Fire become a reality.

The boy never mentioned these aspirations to anyone. He was expected to simply absorb what knowledge he could and produce something of worth with it all, to serve his village and make his success its success, and for now that was enough. The whole entire world could not be protected solely by him, just yet, but the home that had given him everything he had will one day be rewarded with his protection and guidance.

His father more than likely brought him here to remind him of what the world was truly like, as if such a thing could be forgotten after several years of peace in a village. Still, the man thought of Rokumaru as someone with potential, ore ready to be shaped by a willing hand. Katsuo wanted Roku to be strong, only for himself, but strong nonetheless.

Despite his critical behavior towards the boy, constantly pushing him to meet his expectations, he still viewed the redhead as his responsibility. One day he would respect Rokumaru for his power, regardless of how he chose to wield it, and one day Rokumaru would forgive the man for his way of life and deficient character. Perhaps, now that they were both shinobi, the boy could show his father just what potential he truly had. Ninjutsu was Katsuo’s prime source of power, and it would one day be Roku’s as well.

Hours passed by as Roku lay on the dune, deep in thought, but before long a heat began to make itself known that was not from the sun that just began to rise. And, lo and behold, Katsuo arrived soon after with a noticeably more cheerful attitude in the way he carried himself.

Katsuo gave a rare, genuine smile, sharp white teeth bared. “It’s time you learned what being a ninja for a village is really like.”

WC: 2246+2050=4296

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