• The Story of Katakune Tamoku

    Chapter 8 - "Dancing Aura of Butterflies"

    This winter, though it's just begun, has been quite warm. I haven't seen any snow yet, but the Winter Rose is starting to bloom...
    "Hyup! Hyup! Hyup!" The key to a good punch is a loud key-up. They say the louder it is, the stronger the hit. I've practiced myself to the bone all day and have already made up some new Taijutsu moves. These physical moves are really hard to remember but if I keep training, it'll be perfect in no time.
    I stopped my hours long training to go inside and rest. I found no working faucet or well anywhere near my house, so I guess it's time to show myself around the village.
    I grabbed a canteen and headed off to the center of town, past tall trees of forests and various families of animals hiding in bushes. Once I found a clearing in the trees, I slowly and carefully stepped out in the open. The first thing I saw was the back of a medium sized building. I stepped around and looked down. The building was ontop of an elevated plane, rose from some steps. I walked the rest of the way down then, before I saw the rest of the village, looked back at the building. It looked like it had two stories, with a few windows, and a sliding door in the front. It also revealed a pointed top. "This must be the Administration building," I said, "so, behind me is the rest of the village?"
    I turned around and found myself in quite a dissapointment. This village was so small! From the very east side to the very west side had to be at least 200 feet! There were little houses bunched together in each corner of this packed up oval, and right in front of me, about 100 feet, were steps stuck carelessly in the middle of a forest, leading down to something I couldn't see from here. All the houses were a brownish tint and the grass wasn't even grass. It was either dried yellow patches or dead brown dirt.
    This town looked abandoned by itself! I saw no one in their houses, no one out in the open, no one... And then I noticed; On every house, had a streaming headband floating down from their roof, or a pole. Star ninja headbands. I got confused, took off my scarf, then stared at the metal plate on it. "Star ninjas... They aren't ordinary shinobi, are they? There's something different about them. And all of these headbands in this fashion? It must mean something." Then I looked up when I heard a cry. A baby's cry? I looked around.
    I stepped down the stairs to get in the middle of the village. "Where is it coming from?" I said looking everywhere. It got louder, then I found out where. I looked forward, at the careless stairs, from the forest. "Huh?"
    Next, I could hear people talking. Wounded people, elderly people, helpless mothers carrying their dying babies. It all came clear to me now... a little bit. The villagers started walking up the steps to my sight. I stepped back a little because the first person I saw was an old lady covered in blood. Her arms were cut up and bruised, holding a wailing baby. I could see, she was looking down at the baby and crying, no strength. Sweat rolled down my face, "What is happening? Does this have anything to do with the headbands?" Then the next people, A young man holding another guy's arm over his shoulder, helping him walk. He was talking to him, encouraged, but extremely sad. The man he was holding looked twice his age, and could be his father. The father, though, never responded. Never walked. Never moved. I frowned at the sight, the miserable sight. This man was trying to help his dad get up the stairs even after his death... I guess he couldn't accept it yet, so sad. My eyes started watering up, "These people must be victims of war," I sniffed, "They just came back to their home town after battling another country for something stupid." Then a tear rolled down my cheek as the next person came up, on his own. He had no legs, and no help. He carried himself by his arms, but he looked so encouraged, like he was as normal as can be.
    All these people went back to their houses and took down their headbands. I guess I was right, it had to do with the forehead protectors. Some of them were angrily forcing the bands down and hitting the pavement, then slamming the doors behind them, going inside.
    Most of them were coughing, sick, tired, and aching. All of them were injured and in need of instant medical support. But it changed me when I saw this whole village of people so encouraged like this, even after a heart breaking experience.
    "War is death, war is stupid. War is simply meaningless. But people will still compete in war, if it starts as an argument, a fight, and into a stupid battle. War can be started in the stupidest reasons, 'You kidnapped my child,' 'I want to become the greatest,' or just, 'because'. And as long as nobody can understand someone's pain like this, it will keep on going on." I looked down with a smile for no reason, "But it blesses me when I see these people just walking back home from some kind of war for some reason, still living by a thread, never giving up. That's it... Never giving up. That's what inspires me."
    I knew that I shouldn't talk to any of these people yet, they need time alone, to get rid of their issues before I can really speak to them about any of this. I'd rather wait for them to actually be in a good mood before confronting any of them.
    I ran back home and sat on my bed to think. The thinking turned to sleeping once the sun finished its daily race across the sky.
    In the dead of night: "Have you made the neccesary preperations to admit him in the organization?"
    "Actually, yes I have... But I won't get him for many more years."
    "Why not, Leader? You are completely ready right now. Is there something wrong?"
    "He's not fully ready yet. Now stop asking questions and fufil your next duties... Okashii."
    The mysterious man sighed, looking away from the aged wise adult. "Yes sir," He then flew off in the opposite direction, leaving the aged old man to ponder in the darkness. "Are you, or are you not ready Katakune? Shall we ever know...?"
    In the early morning, I yawn and finally get up, sleeping in. "Nyeh, It's too early to get up. I wonder what the people are doing today though." I pulled back the blinds to my window next to me and squinted at the blinding morning light, bathing the room with a bright yellow. I flinched, then it became clear to me now. I looked through the clearing in the trees, and in between the buildings, I could bearly see people. Busy people. "Huh? It's only been one day from the war and they're already up and about? Whoa... these people really don't give up... but some side of it kinda creeps me out. I don't know what, though."
    I got out of bed and put my same old tattered clothing on, and walked out the plain door out into the thin woods, and around to the village. I saw some people who I remembered, walking up the main steps. And most of them were going in one direction; to the hospital. "Well, that would make sense, since most of them are fataly injured and emotionally scarred," I whispered to myself.
    I stared at the people going the opposite direction though. New people I haven't seen before. "Hmm? Who are they?" I walked the direction they were walking, to the administration building, and entered the double-doors. The first thing I saw was a wide hallway, with a pair of benches on each side, sitting various ninjas from various countries, and a busy lady behind a desk, working with other people in the back. This confused me. What is this building? Sign up to be an administrator of the village? Sign up to be a citizen? Yeah that must be it, according to all these strangers here.
    I took a tab off of a roll near the entrance and sat down next to a musty smelling old man. "Number 489?" I said to myself. The old man looked over me with the strangest eye and an itchy gray beard hanging over my neck, snuffing down my shirt. And with a creepy old voice said, "Hey, boy there, I got number 488!" My eye twitched as I tried to ignore him and turn away. He licked his lips and continued, "It looks like they're serving number 39 right now, so I guess it's just you and me for the next eight hours, eh?" He sounded pretty happy, grining his creepy old grin from ear to ear, making creases in his cheeks. Both my eyes squeezed together and my lips pursed up to my nose, "Oh dear lord," I said quietly to myself, "Uh.. I-i..." I stuttered, "I guess so...?" I akwardly questioned. The old man, with his sweaty old ragged clothing, leaned in closer to me, lipping his chaps again and said, "I'm sorry, little boy, what? I couldn't hear you over the loud talking in the room!" He practically yelled. After the loud chat, the room got very akwardly quiet. "Loud talking?" I sarcastically thought to myself, "Yeah right old man, why don't you just die in a di--" I got interupted, "WHAT WAS THAT SONNY?" He screamed, a break in his voice in the middle. My eyes opened wide as everyone's attention was brought toward us. Then I cleverly came up with, "Uh, I'm sorry grandpa, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings like... that." I got sweaty as he leaned an inch away from my ear and really scarily said, "Now listen here boy, if you make an act like that one more time, you'll be next in death row here." I could feel the fear bump up my whole body then; the cold air from his musty breath sweeping into my brain. I, without a thought, said, "Um... yes... sir." He immediantly changed moods and yelled, "Good boy!" and started rubbing my head like I was his son. I felt extremely violated though.
    After eight painful agonizing hours, once I finally got my turn and it was about to close, I already smelled like that old man. I groaned and waddled to the counter. "Hello, ma'am, I'd like to stay in this country, can you tell me how to do that." And with no enthusiasm whatsoever, she monotonously replied, "Here, take this form and fill out anywhere it tells you too. If you have any criminal records please add them into it, and have a nice day." I just looked at her like something was missing. "Uh, miss?" She never looked down at me, like she was staring at the entrance, to get out of her job already, arms by her side. "What is it now, boy?" I looked down and whispered, "Well Someone doesn't like their job, now do they?" That's when she finally looked at me, "What. Is. It. Now. Boy?" I looked back at her, inferior, and squeeked out, "Oh nothing, ma'am... I'm just gonna go now," nervously running out of the door and back home.
    I threw myself on top of the bed and started jotting down notes on the side of the administration paper. What the heck is this? My middle name-- Mirishikiarichikikato... Dare ya to say that six times fast. Mother's maiden name? I don't even know her first name! And what's this? Dentist's grandmother's dead cat's second cousin twice removed age? What in the world is up with this village! Jeez...
    I filled out all of what I could in the packet, madly scribbling personal stuff on the back and crossing it out. Now it's really late and I can't return it now, time to go to bed, I guess.
    Once night time comes, I can feel so much activity going around everywhere, yet everything is always so silent...
    Activity again, morning again. Third day in Bear country and time to turn in my paper.
    I walked over to the administration building, going over my paper to see what I've left out. "Nothing... I guess that's it." I said, almost bumping into the desk. "Oh, hi, miss!" She stared down at me, then at the paper, "That for me?"
    "Uh, yeah, it is," I said, shakily handing it to her. "An artist, eh?" She said. "Um...--" She said, "Well this'll do. For now. But, tell me Katakune, what do you really want to accomplish while you are here in the Village Under the Stars?" My mouth smirked and I shifted my head down, staring at her with my sweet disipline. "Well, Miss. I, Katakune, really want to become a Star ninja in this village! I want to learn all the jutsu you have to give me and master it too! I want to find my own jutsu, then everyone will think I'm famous for it! I just want alot of people to know me better so I can have a little more fun time while I'm here in the Bear country... is there anything else I need to do?"
    "Well, Master Tamoku, if you really want to stay here, there is one rule for the Bear country: Have you ever mercilessly murdered, slaughtered, or just killed a harmless animal for food, warmth, or just for fun? Mostly bears?" She seduced. My eyes got wide and my eyebrows went up. I felt my teeth grind as a sweatdrop rolled down my head. "Umm..." I said, rubbing the back of my neck, "It was for survival, you see? I had no mone--!"
    "It's ok, Kune." She softly said. "H-...huh?" I was extremely confused by now! This country is so whacked, I don't even know if I can stay here!
    "We are all forgiven for the sins we have done, and to make mends for what you have done, We shall free you of all your bad deeds and it will be like nothing has happened." She politely said. My eye twitched and I thought, "Man, did your voice change?! There's something horribly wrong with... whatever I don't care anymore, at least I get to stay here!"
    "We will start the ceremony tommorow," she ended with a smile.
    The setting was a small church. The mellow-dramatic windows tinted lightly to the atmosphere of the small room. Few benches were lined up evenly along the sides, in rows, and in the back, was a platform raising a small piano and an overdressed minister. The Lady, who I learned was named, Jishin, helped me get ready for this ritual. Jishin said, "Katakune, I know you're nervous about this and don't know what it's going to be like, but you're going to be fine! It'll only take a second, and after that, it'll be alright. We don't like to say exactly what it is, because it usually scares people away, but it's not what you think; you'll have a sudden feeling of enlightenment when it's over, and when it's going on, they said you cry happily so much that you will never want to kill again." "Uh, alright, Jishin, thank you, I'll do my best," I said, pushing up my glasses, then she pushing up hers. "Good, Katakune, I'm very encouraged in you!" She said, with a final big smile, which, in turn, made me grin a bit too.
    I walked down the short hallway thinking of what will happen. The thoughts in my mind took up so much of the time walking, that I didn't even notice when I got to the end, and almost tripped on the first step. I regained balance and walked up to the bishop though.
    "Katakune Tamoku. You have come here today to free yourself of the sins of mercilessly murdering innocent animals with no reason, correct?" He announced. I couldn't help but talking back and saying, "No! Stop saying it like that! You're making it sound like I did something so terrible I should be sentanced to death by it! I'm not a bad person!" But I didn't. I just went with it, and replied, "Yes sir." "And do you, Katakune, wish to stop the hauntings of the animals, making you feel guilty of your horrible deeds? To make them stop harrasing you? You have stopped them from loving their family, but I do see you have felt the same way. And I understand what you did was not revenge towards them, to make them feel the same pain you have, correct?" He said. "Yes..." I thought about it. He knows so much of my past, how? He's like the lord, all knowing and all loving. But I haven't killed any animal to show them the pain I feel. Only to survive on my own will. "...Sir," I finished.
    "Then let the ritual... begin!" He shouted as everyone returned in a long rebelious chant, getting louder and louder. I then saw, even Jishin was joining in. What in the world was going on? I was scared, I felt like I'd been kidnapped. So inferior! "Look into my eyes, Katakune... What do you see?" He said, rising my face to his eyes with his finger, making me stare into them. They were so wierd. So hard to describe. But the last thing I saw was red and black. Everything went silent and all I could hear was a defening permanent screech, haunting me to the bone, rising up in goosebumps. I quickly opened my eyes in fear, letting out my loudest cry for help, but no sound came out. Everything was so quiet aside from the screech. That defening screech! I screamed louder and louder until I started to cry and my lungs felt like bursting, but still no sound came out. All of the sudden swarms of various animals started stampeding around my trembeling, numb legs, chanting the same song the preachers were. I started understanding what was going on. When I looked into that guys eyes, it started a genjutsu. Tatsuka told me about these; they are very unique techniques in which an illusion can be cast to the opponent by a single little sign. And this time, by sight.
    The animals started to rise up on their hind legs and gain human-like features until all of them looked like half man-half animal, each holding a long sword, still circiling my paralized body. And then it happened. The screech stopped and so did the animals. For a second was the most silent moment of my life. But then they retracted their swords and... "Slice, Stab, Chwink!" My cries got louder and louder, but at the same time, I was speechless. The pain was so agonizingly painful, but I couldn't express it. These animals I have killed for food have now been ripping apart my body, skin by skin with torturing swords. Next, I saw an orange fox-human. He got really close to my face and whispered in my ear, "I have done so much for you... what have I done to deserve this?" And ended it with a long piercing stab, right in my heart. I could feel the pain like it was the real thing, but I knew it was just fake in real life. I had to forget it, but it's extremely hard to ignore your heart being stabbed internally. Blood started falling from my mouth and I started to laugh and cry at the same time. The laughing finally made it through. Once I started to laugh, I made the first sound, and some of the animals started leaving. I didn't know what it ment, but I just kept on laughing, giggling, snickering, chuckling. My sound grew louder until I could finally hear it clearly and the last animal was gone.
    The emotional pain and the physical pain was so unbarable though, I collapsed right there, right when I made the genjutsu disappear. On my own. I fell into the bishop's arms, not a scratch on me, and everyone started to gather around to me. I weakly opened my eyes and asked them how long I was gone, since it seemed like hours to me. I vaugly heard an answer before fainting, "The second after he told us the ritual begun, you fell straight into his arms and we gathered. You weren't even gone for a second!"
    The mob kindly took me to my house and set me in my bed for a good rest, and I was left to dream good dreams, still smiling.
    "So that's what happened?"
    "That's how I reported it, Leader. He wanted to make mends for what he did in the Moon Country. I guess it was pretty right, don't you think?
    "Okashii... I don't think. I never think. I am a GOD, remember? I already know..."
    "Then why do you make us do reconaisance if you...-- nevermind."
    "That's what I thought. So, after this, he will start as a ninja? After having a 'good night's rest' and being done with his bad deeds of killing these animals?"
    "That's what I got on my mission, Leader. Is there anything else you need me to do?"
    "No. That shall be all for today, you may take a break for a while, member."
    "Thank you, sir." The young man ran off to do personal business, while he left the older man alone again, to wonder. "Lord, please bless Katakune of his bad crimes and sanctify the withered heart of his..."
    I woke up early the next day to start my enrollment in the Ninja acadamy. Some people there I knew from the ceremony and were really praised to see me. It seems like I'm already making friends! This small country is probably the most friendliest, but wierdest too. I asked the boss of the teachers to enroll me and she gladly accepted my request. And, lucky me, I did it early enough to start today! Once I sat in my seat all the girls started ganging up on me asking... well... very personal questions that I'm not even gonna get into, but yeah, I liked school. Aside from the educational stuff which I basically already knew thanks to Tatsuka, the Jutsu session was my favorite. I skipped a few grades in weaponary, of course, but one I really failed at was genjutsu. "Hey, I can't make alternate deminsions with my eye-ball ya know?" I chuckled to myself.
    This country, again, was extremely inviting, and I felt really welcomed here... like I belonged here in the first place. I'm really really starting to get used to this place. I already have many friends, and finally some of them told me what the war was about. They said it was a war about the Star and Leaf villages fighting over cheese! Can you believe that? Because I certainly can't. But I can respect why they won't tell me the truth. It might be hard for them, or they just don't think I'm worthy or something. I don't know, but winter's progressing and it's actually starting to get colder finally. Unlike in the small Moon Island where it would snow every day in winter. The people of this village even donated to me and bought me a fishnet shirt along with a long V neck blue sweater! I was so glad to see their generocity.
    I clenched onto my fully bloomed winter rose and kissed it. I am positive. This is my new home and I never want to run away again... Out and into my surprise the petals of the rose literally started slowly plucking off by themselves and flying in the air and changing shape. I was awestruck. This indicates the middle of winter, and also resembles my love for The Black Haired Beauty. Each petal formed into gorgeous glowing butterflies which soared into the dying sunset. Tears formed in my eyes at the beauty. The dancing aura of butterflies made my day that day. They made my life. My hardships have turned into new hope and I'm so glad to hear it too. Because now, I am happy.