The story of how Tayuya joined the Hidden Sound village.
She ran as fast as she could with an ocarina clutched in her hand. It wasn't her first choice in instruments, but it had something that her flute didn't provide enough of, power. She willed her legs to carry her faster, but they soon gave up under her weight. If not because she saw her feet she wouldn't be able to tell if she still had them, she felt nothing below the knees, as if that portion of her legs had disappeared. The top part of her legs felt numb and the odd sensation of numbness started to climb to her waist. If it reached her heart, she knew she would die.
Tayuya picked herself off the cold stone floor and tried her hardest to continue her desperate run for survival. Using the wall for support, she moved forward little by little, inch by inch, but that was not fast enough. She could hear an angry hissing snake following her close behind. 'He's not even coming himself, he's just sending the snakes,' she thought. Yet she knew that in her injured condition, that would be enough.
There was hardly any light in the long corridor. It was like an abyss of darkness waiting for her to fall into it. She would choose that over the snakes any day, or night, she wasn't sure of the time flow anymore. She glared at the ocarina, squeezing it with burnt fingers even if it caused more pain. That stupid thing started it all and ruined it all.
Tayuya continued her failed efforts to get away from the snakes. She no longer felt her legs, worse yet she couldn't move them. She collapsed on her knees as the feeling of numbness reached her chest. Her breaths were labored and uneven. Sweat ran down the side of her face, as she realized she was cornered, surrounded by snakes. With a sudden pain in her heart, she fell to the cold hard stone floor. Her cheek felt as if it had touched ice coming in contact with the surface. Her mouth was filled with the taste of blood.
Tayuya held on to her last bit of life, hoping and wishing with all her heart and soul that Orochimaru would regain control. She blamed herself for his terrible fate, even if she knew it wasn't her fault. It was that cursed ocarina. At that moment, in mere seconds her life flashed before her eyes in her subconscious mind. 'It's the end,' Tayuya thought, yet even so, she didn't let go of the fragile thread of life left in her.
It had been several days since he left the Hidden Leaf village after another failed mission. Things had not gone well for him since then. Although he had escaped, his research was left behind and with that came many set backs. He attempted to recover it, but that proved to be a mistake. He should have known better than to think there would still be useful traces left without traps. Now he was starting to doubt himself after days of running away from the ANBU and trying to survive.
He had entered a cave seeking shelter from the growing storm. The violent wind, dark clouds, roaring thunder and harsh rain, felt most unwelcome in his exhausted being. He was certain he had managed to put a considerable distance between himself and the ANBU. He knew they would cease their chase if he got far enough; they had more important business to tend to back at the Hidden Leaf village.
As if drawn by a mysterious force, Orochimaru made his way deeper into the cave. He came to what appeared to be a dead end, except he knew it wasn't. He could feel the chakra emanating from the apparently solid stone wall. He searched for a crack on the wall and found one at the upper right corner, then got to work on using that weak point to make his way deeper into the cave. Once that wall was out of the way, he followed the charka to another cave chamber with torches of blue fire on its walls.
Surrounded by statues that were apparently guarding it, Orochimaru found a glass box. Being it made of pure transparent glass, he could see the ocarina inside it. It appeared to be a regular instrument, but if it was, it wouldn't be so heavily guarded. Sure enough the enchanted statues were not the only guardians, yet the shield of chakra surrounding the circle of statues was relatively easy to break, having weakened over time. The next step was fighting the guardians themselves.
The statues rose to life, attacking relentlessly. Orochimaru skillfully dodged the attacks regardless of his exhaustion and drew his sword, Kusanagi. The Kusanagi easily cut through the stone swords the statues held. Sliced into small pebbles, the incantation soon wore off the statues and they became common stones. For a barrier of protection with such an imposing appearance, the guardians were easily defeated, almost too easily.
However, Orochimaru was left panting and struggling to catch his breath since he was already so tired before. Using the sword for support, he made it up the stairs into a small platform where the glass box sat, as if begging to be stolen. Putting the sword away, he held on to the stone table with both hands, as the darkness of the cave appeared to become darker, he was losing consciousness.
Suddenly the reason for the barrier being destroyed so easily made perfect sense, as did the weakness of the stone guardians. Those were basically just for show; their true purpose was to scare people away and to prevent weaker ninja from getting past that line of defense. No doubt about it, the glass box was the true security measure. Furthermore, the two previous obstacles, the force field and the guardians, were weakened by the box itself which now drained Orochimaru's chakra, yet he refused to leave it behind.
He picked up the glass box, light in appearance but heavy in reality, or perhaps it was his lack of chakra mixed with the harshness of days without food or sleep making his escape that made the box feel heavier than it was. He knew he wasn't capable of opening the box in his current state and trying could very well kill him. His best chance would be to carry the box with him, even if it drained his life slowly. Hopefully, he would make it to his hideout on time.
Orochimaru hurried out of the cave as fast as the glass box's life draining power permitted him to move on his limited energy. The dark colors of the semi-desert rocky scenery started to blend as the dizziness rushed to his head. He considered dropping the box and moving away from it, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. For the container to be that powerful the tool within it, although seemingly harmless, had to be so much more powerful and he wanted that power. He found the artifact only by change but he refused to let it go.
xoxox xox xoxox
When he regained consciousness, Orochimaru found himself in his room feeling feverish. For a brief moment he was confused and disoriented, wondering if the ocarina in the glass box had been nothing but a dream. No, it was more than that, it had been a reality. Although faint, he could feel the glass box's chakra draining power near by.
He scanned the room for any clues as to how he got there and soon found the answer on the floor. Aided by the light of a candle, the only light in the small underground room, Orochimaru easily recognized the young boy sleeping on the floor. He got up slowly, not fully trusting himself to stand yet, and with some difficulty picked up the boy and placed him in a sitting position on the bed.
"Orochimaru-sama," the boy had woken up slightly when he felt someone pick him up and was just now becoming fully awake. He didn't remember being on the floor in the first place, but he assumed he had fallen off his chair and was too tired to get up before sleep claimed him. "I found you a little way north of here. I put the box you had away and put some seals around it to absorb its power, but I don't think they're enough. I lost a lot of chakra bringing you here with the box since I thought you wouldn't want me to leave it behind." The boy was very young, but quite a little genius. He was very strong for his age and capable of skillfully performing advanced medical jutsu.
"Well done Kabuto," Orochimaru gently placed a hand on boy's silver hair. "I'll check those seals and see what I can do to keep the box's power in check until it can be opened. I have a feeling that it may take some time." Regardless of his defeat on his mission at the Hidden Leaf village, things were not looking too bad. He was back in the safety of his hideout and he was certain that the ANBU gave up the search briefly before he reached the cave. It was a surprise that they even went past the border.
Orochimaru followed Kabuto to the room where the glass box containing the mysterious ocarina was kept, even if it was easy to find it by feeling its power. The seals Kabuto placed on it and around it were working at full capacity to block out its chakra consumption power, but it clearly wasn't enough. Still, compared to before, the glass box's power was now tolerable.
The snake ninja approached the glass box. His golden eyes glowed with the light it reflected from a near by candle. 'I will open this box and have the power it guards,' Orochimaru silently vowed. 'Even if it takes ten years, I will have this power.' He didn't know how right he was, it would be ten years before he met the girl who would eventually hold the ocarina in her hands.
Past (ten years later)
Orochimaru stood atop a small hill, watching the small village burn. Kabuto walked among the dead bodies holding a clipboard and taking notes. He appeared to be quite calm, almost cheerful. Of course he would be, given the chance to do some medical research; he had the happiness of a mad scientist right before an experiment. The silver young man suddenly looked alert as a peculiar sound reached his ears. He looked towards the direction of the sound then back at Orochimaru.
"Yes, I hear it too. It sounds like someone is feeling suicidal. Shall we grant their wish?" Orochimaru grinned mischievously.
Kabuto nodded, "it would be rude not to grant a person's final wish."
The flames continued to burn in several of the small houses and huts, while the wind carried away the smoke mixed with the foul scent of death. The two ninjas made their way into a small house. A portion of the roof had caught aflame from the large fire that consumed the house next to it, yet the music didn't stop.
Kabuto gave Orochimaru a puzzled look, "insanity?"
"Perhaps," Orochimaru mused, "or perhaps it is the feeling of having nothing left."
They entered the house and found a young girl playing a beautiful melody on her flute. The instrument was old and worn out, possibly passed down from one generation to the next in her family. Surely such a poor village had no extra money to spend on something unnecessary to their survival, such as a flute.
Her old dress was torn and dirty, but those brown rags were the best she had. Her hair was a mess with dust and ashes, but her eyes were the must intriguing. Her eyes looked empty, yet at the same time full of life. The life in them was extinguished when she stopped playing, having noticed the presence of her unwelcome guests in a house that wasn't hers.
Orochimaru slowly drew the Kusanagi sword. He extended his arm holding the sword next to the girl's neck. With one swift movement she could be easily decapitated. Her face showed no fear at the possibility, but instead a slight hint of hope. She brought the flute to her lips once more and started playing just like before.
Orochimaru paused. His memories of a conversation with Kabuto returned to his mind as he listened to the song. No doubt about it, fate had once again placed the tool he needed right in front of him, just like so many years ago. This girl would be quite useful.
xoxox xox xoxox
It had been another failed attempt to open the glass box containing the mysterious ocarina. "Even if we do open it," Kabuto started, he was interrupted by Orochimaru.
"You mean when we open it," Orochimaru corrected, annoyed that the boy dared to hint that they wouldn't be able to open the glass box that caused him so much trouble to bring to his hideout.
"Right," Kabuto pushed up his glasses, a habit of his. "When we open the box, controlling the ocarina's power may prove to be very difficult."
His words came as no surprise to Orochimaru. "Of course, no great power comes easy."
"I've been doing some research on what the ocarina can be. The information I've found has been extremely limited, however it seems that playing it is the only way to release its power and it would take an exceptional amount of musical skill. Someone without the needed natural musical talent won't be able to use the ocarina's power. From what I could gather, it's not a simple fact of knowing how to play the instrument, but to a certain degree sharing a connection with it," Kabuto explained.
"So you're saying that I, Orochimaru, the founder of the Hidden Sound village, am not musical?" Orochimaru inquired.
Kabuto smiled, "I didn't mean it like that. It's just that it may take special musical skills."
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." It was more like Orochimaru to plan ahead, but this time he wasn't sure it was entirely possible. Orochimaru made a pause and closed his eyes for a moment, letting thoughts and ideas flow. He wasn't sure how to proceed from there. They've tried everything to open the glass box and it didn't work. It was as if the ocarina's power was what kept it closed. It was like trying to open a chest when the key was locked inside it.
Upon that thought, Orochimaru's mind wandered to the legend about the thief who sat in the entrance to a desert next to a sign indicating that travelers should ignore the man sitting beside that sign. One day a hero came to him with a chest which apparently had its key locked inside. In all the land, that thief was the only one able to pick the lock and open the chest.
Orochimaru opened his eyes again and sent an unenthusiastic glare towards the glass box. If his mind refused to focus on the task at hand, and was wandering off to the tales and legends that Sarutobi used to tell him and his teammates when they were younger, then he needed to take a break.
xoxox xox xoxox
Orochimaru moved Kusanagi further from the girl and put it away. Kabuto gave him a confused look. Orochimaru took a step forward and waited for some kind of reaction from the girl. She simply continued playing her flute until the song ended. Then she paused and lowered her flute inches away from her mouth. "Weren't you going to kill me?" There was sorrow in her voice and no will left to fight.
"Enough have died for today, you'll come with us," Orochimaru answered. Kabuto made the connection. Maybe her musical skills could be of used if, or rather when, they opened the glass box.
Tayuya shrugged. "Fine, the people of this village were not my family anyway." It suddenly made sense why she appeared to have no anger towards them for destroying the village and killing its inhabitants. Those people were not exceptionally kind to Tayuya. She stayed near the village and sometimes received a little food in exchange for a lot of work, other times she snuck around and stole it.
Shelter was not a thing they were willing to give her, save in extreme occasions when there was a storm, in which case she was to sleep in a corner of the floor, never in decent accommodations. All she had was her precious flute which would be her companion to the day of her death. Her parents had died long ago, leaving her a wandering orphan with no place to belong, except in the sound carried by the wind. Her music was her only way to soothe her soul.
The girl with the flute followed the two ninja strangers. The younger one with silver hair sealed the dead bodies into scrolls for a purpose unknown to her. The older one with the golden eyes and long black hair waited patiently for the one with glasses to finish before they moved on.
xoxox xox xoxox
Continuing their journey, they led her to a secret place, their hideout no doubt. "Kabuto, you may go now to study and organize your findings," Orochimaru voiced.
The silver haired one, named Kabuto, nodded eagerly. "Thank you for providing me with all these test subjects Orochimaru-sama." Carrying a large bundle of scrolls in his arms, the cheerful young man left.
Tayuya continued following the older man through the dark corridors of the underground structure, lit only by a few candles. She mentally took note of their names. The one with silver hair was Kabuto and the one with golden eyes, obviously in charge, was Orochimaru. He had not spoken to her directly since he told her she would have to go with them, to which she opposed no objection. She remained silent until he stopped in front of a door.
"This is your room." Orochimaru opened the door, revealing a small dark room. As if he had the place memorized, Orochimaru reached for some matches and lit a candle set on a small table. Besides that, the only other furniture in the room was a bed with simple white sheets and a pillow. A door was slightly opened on the side of the room revealing a small bathroom behind it. "You are expected to stay here at all times unless you are called. I'll send Kabuto to bring you some clothes in a few minutes." He stepped out of the room, waiting at the door for her to enter so he could lock it from outside.
Tayuya entered the room and turned to face Orochimaru. Although she was technically a prisoner, the accommodations she was offered were more comfortable than she had in a long time. Besides, she had nothing left except her musical lifeless companion and she was starting to doubt that a flute was enough to hold on to life for. "Thank you."
The words came as a surprise to Orochimaru or maybe not so much the words but the sincerity with which they were said. The girl must have certainly lived harsh times to thank someone for taking her captive. Clearly the village was not good to her; otherwise she would harbor anger towards its destroyers, which she clearly didn't. "What's your name?"
Now it was Tayuya who was surprised. She hadn't expected him to ask her name or even sound like he cared to receive an answer. No one ever asked her name in the village. They simply addressed her as 'girl' or 'the girl with the flute' and other less kind names. She had almost forgotten what the name her parents have given her was. She searched for it in her distant memories, closing her eyes for concentration and running her finger along her flute. "Tayuya," it rung out from deep in her mind like a forgotten song that had retuned after being silent for a long time.
"Did it take you that long just to remember your own name?" Orochimaru shook his head. To forget one's own name; the girl had certainly been through a lot. She was nearly a lost soul without an identity, drifting away, nearly, almost, but not completely lost yet, not if she could still remember her own name even if it took some thought.
"People never ask my name. They just call me 'girl', 'the girl with the flute' and other things, but those others are things that I'm not," Tayuya voiced.
So she did still carry a certain small amount of appreciation for her own being. Orochimaru would think she had lost that by simply looking at her unmotivated expression and her will to die without struggle earlier. "Here, you will be called Tayuya."
She smiled just a little, because she appreciated it. It was a small detailed, but she was good to be acknowledged as a person and not just some vermin to society. "Thank you, Orochimaru-sama."
xoxox xox xoxox
After Orochimaru had left, Tayuya contemplated the closed door, which she knew was locked, not that she had any desire to leave at the moment anyway. The bathroom she saw was the most tempting destination, but she wondered if she should wait for Kabuto to arrive with her clothes first. Until then, she occupied herself washing her flute and her face.
The flute was her treasure and took priority, even before herself. She tried not to look directly at her reflection while she washed the flute. The mirror was small, but clearly reflected the harsh truth of her empty existence.
After the flute was clean she started to wash the dust, ashes and sweat off her face. It was as if a second layer of skin was removed and when her flesh was finally reveled, she almost didn't recognize the girl staring back at her in the mirror. That face was no longer the face of an unfortunate child; it was the face of a young woman with nothing to give up.
The sound of the door being opened broke the silence of the room, followed by footsteps. "Orochimaru-sama told me to bring you some clothes." Kabuto placed the clean lavender robes on her bed. He glanced at the girl, named Tayuya according to what Orochimaru said. She looked odd with her face appearing pale in comparison to her muddy skin.
"Thank you Kabuto," Tayuya quietly replied.
"No problem," Kabuto smiled, ever so care free. "Also Tayuya, you should be cleaned up and changed soon. I'll knock on the door when it's time to go eat dinner, be ready by then."
So he too knew her name, Orochimaru must have told him. "Dinner outside of my room?" Tayuya was expecting her meals to be given to her to eat in her room, if she was given any food at all. Orochimaru made it clear she shouldn't wander out of the room, so she didn't think she would be welcomed in a dinning room.
"Yes, you're having dinner with all of us. Orochimaru would like to ask you a few things after that," Kabuto left Tayuya to her thoughts and he exited the room.
Tayuya noticed that the door wasn't locked, but paid it little attention. She didn't even bother to check to make sure, as she did not hear the click of the lock like she did before.
Outside, Kabuto paused looking at the closed door.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Leave the lock open? Are you sure, Orochimaru-sama? She's new, can we trust her?" Kabuto asked.
"She's not going anywhere. She feels more welcomed here than in the outside world. She's got nothing to lose and gaining something like a roof over her head, even if it is as a prisoner, means a lot to her. Besides, she won't be a prisoner for long, she'll become part of the Hidden Sound village," Orochimaru explained.
"Then you want to put her to work while we try to open the box?" Kabuto continued smiling, "no freeloaders here."
"It's only natural for the Hidden Sound to have talented musicians among their ninja," Orochimaru replied.
xoxox xox xoxox
Dismissing the thoughts and telling himself it was not his problem if she did escape, Kabuto continued on his way. Except it would be his problem, because he would be sent after her, because Orochimaru was convinced she would be the one and only capable of handling the ocarina.
Kabuto had to admit there was something special bout her songs, plus not many could play so gracefully when facing death. Even with the Kusanagi sword dangerously close to her neck, Tayuya kept on playing the flute. Perhaps she did have something unique.
xoxox xox xoxox
Being left alone in her room, Tayuya set off the clean herself. She had forgotten when was the last time she had a good place to bathe. She usually just got as clean as possible hastily, in a river at night. Now she had a small tub to finally get cleaned up for good. She let the water run, filling the tub as she wondered about why there was water but no electricity. Maybe electricity could be traced easier, but water could come from an underground river or something like that. Her theory was good enough to satisfy her curiosity, so Tayuya focused on scrubbing the dirt off her body.
There was a bar of soap and a little shampoo bottle. The cleaning supplies felt good when applied to her skin, yet at the same time unpleasant. Maybe it was because the substance was so alien to her flesh it almost stung, but she was still satisfied to finally take a decent bath. Her hair took extra work to clean, but finally regained its bright red color. Anyone who saw her would think her hair was brown or black before.
Tayuya stayed in the tub after she had finished bathing. A knock on the door of her room indicated that it was time to get out. She hastily grabbed a towel and dried herself, then got dressed in the lavender robes Kabuto had brought before. She dried off her hair as much as possible with the towel, until it was only damp. Another knock was an indication that she should hurry. The second knock came with less confidence than the first, as if the one knocking on the door started to doubt she was still there.
Tayuya finished getting dressed so hastily she nearly tripped over the shoes that were left on the floor for her. She quickly put them on, she couldn't even remember the last time she was wearing shoes. The lavender robes where simple but elegant and comfortable. She felt an odd sense of accomplishment, simply because she finally had something nice to wear. After hearing an impatient knock she rushed to open the door and came face to face with Orochimaru, who looked somewhat relieved that she was still there.
Tayuya blinked in confusion. She had expected Kabuto or some other ninja who worked for him to come by. "Orochimaru-sama," was the only thing she managed to say.
"I see you didn't escape after all," Orochimaru observed. The girl looked considerably different now that he was clean and wearing new clothes. Her hair was a bright shade of red instead of dark brown like he had initially thought and she looked rather pleased to see him. She did get used to calling him 'Orochimaru-sama' fast enough. "Were you expecting someone else?"
Tayuya nodded, it was evident after all. "I thought you would send Kabuto or some other," she paused searching for the right word, "um... minion ninja."
"Kabuto is busy with his research. When he gets entertained by something, he just won't let it go. He'll probably be late for dinner if he even comes. The others are probably messily eating as we speak. I want to ask you a few things later. Come, we'll talk after dinner. You're hungry, right?" The question was obvious but Orochimaru asked it anyway.
Tayuya vigorously nodded her head with a starving look in her eyes. "Yes, Orochimaru-sama, I'm very hungry."
At least she was polite, although Orochimaru had a feeling that her language would turn colorful when she gained confidence. She also gave him the impression of having a hidden fiery temper. He was good at reading people and if the guess was wrong, then her teammates would corrupt her soon enough. "This way..."
Tayuya eagerly followed, while imagining the meal she would have. As if trying to stay in reality, she told herself not to get her hopes up and expect too much. She was there in between the lines of guest and prisoner and was not yet entirely sure where she stood. She should just be thankful she got food, instead of waiting for it to be a feast.
xoxox xox xoxox
Tayuya's eyes went wide as they entered the dinning hall. Orochimaru wasn't kidding when he said the others were messily eating by now.
The snake ninja stood at the entrance for a moment tapping his foot impatiently. He waited just a few more moments and contemplated Tayuya's hungry expression. Clearly the girl couldn't stand to stare at food being eaten and not join in for long. Orochimaru noisily cleared his throat to attract attention.
Sakon glanced towards the entrance, where Orochimaru and an unknown girl stood, and sat straight, elbowing Kidomaru in the process. Kidomaru noticed the situation and also paused his eating, sitting with his back perfectly aligned with the chair's back. Jirobo however, continued eating, blissfully oblivious to Orochimaru's presence. Kidomaru and Sakon poked and whispered at their teammate, yet nothing could break his enchantment with the food on the table.
"Jirobo!" Came Orochimaru's angry voice. Instantly, Jirobo realized that ignoring Kidomaru and Sakon was a bad idea. Although his meal was so tempting, he paused his eating and sat there, waiting for Orochimaru to take his usual seat at the far end of the table. After the room was filled with deadly silence, Orochimaru calmly walked towards the table. "Judging by the way Jirobo is pigging out even more than usual; I would say it was Kin's turn to cook today?"
"Yes, she's the best cook out of all of us," Sakon admitted.
"Why can't she cook everyday?" Kidomaru complained. "Honestly why do I even get a turn, I burn everything."
"If we're taking away Kidomaru's turn to cook, I second that motion!" Sakon added. "Don't forget my vote counts for two; I'm sure Ukon would agree with me."
"I heard that," Kin stood at the doorway opposite to the way Orochimaru entered. "I'm a ninja, not a chef. We all get turns, it's only fair. I'll bring your food in a second Orochimaru-sama. Dosu and Zaku took their dinner and ran off to train somewhere." Kin glanced at the girl who had been ignored so far and asked "will she be joining us too?"
"Yes, Tayuya here is the newest member of the Hidden Sound," Orochimaru informed.
Tayuya smiled, she knew they must think she's stupid with that smile that came for no apparent reason, but she just liked it when people called her by her name.
"Right, good thing I made some extra," with that said, Kin ran off to the kitchen to fetch the food.
"Great, less leftovers for me," Jirobo complained. Kidomaru gave him a disapproving look and Sakon shook his head hopelessly.
Tayuya didn't feel exactly welcomed there. Orochimaru had acknowledge her and Kabuto was nice enough to call her by her name, even if he found out what her was name from Orochimaru instead of taking the time to ask her. But those people didn't even acknowledge her and the one who did, only did it to ask if she had to bring more food. Not that she cared too much, she would receive a hot meal and that was cause for celebration. She had nothing to eat but cold leftovers for quite some time.
Orochimaru sat down at the large comfortable chair at the far end of the rectangular table. "Sit down Tayuya, Kin should be here soon."
Tayuya nodded and took a sit in one of the regular chairs to his left. For a moment she wondered if she should sit there. She was the newbie and was sitting closer to the leader than his more experienced minions were. She left three empty chairs between herself and Kidomaru. Then there were two more empty chairs and finally Jirobo at the end. On the other side of the table to Orochimaru's right only Sakon sat facing Kidomaru. Tayuya fingered her flute which she didn't have the heart to leave behind even for a second and decided that if she was sitting at the wrong place, someone would have told her by now, so it didn't matter.
While Tayuya waited for Kin to arrive with the food, she took a closer look at the people occupying the table. The big guy at the end with a red hair was drooling on the table while staring at his food with a dreamy expression, he was truly infatuated with food. She then looked at another of the guys, noticing his six arms two pairs at his sides and the third pair with the elbows on the table. She stared at him until he noticed and spared her an annoyed glance. Tayuya quickly looked away from Kidomaru and pretended that she wasn't staring in the first place.
Next up, she examined Sakon. She soon noticed that he had a second head sticking out behind his first head and stared at it with wide eyes. This guy gave a new meaning to the expression about staring as if he grew a second head, since he already had two heads. As if to humor the saying, Sakon chuckled and asked. "What's wrong? You're looking at me as if I grew a second head."
Tayuya looked away, slightly embarrassed. Kidomaru laughed, it was obvious to Tayuya he was laughing more at her than at the joke. She glared at the guy with the six arms and regardless of how much he tried to glare back, she didn't stop. They continued glaring daggers at each other with Sakon observing at their visual battle with mild interest. Jirobo was still drooling on the table, oblivious to Kidomaru's visual fight.
"Stop it!" Kidomaru finally snapped. He blinked and resumed his glaring. Tayuya threw her head back and faced forward. Kidomaru was annoyed. "You need to learn some respect. You're the new girl here and clearly no one explained how things work." Kidomaru stood up.
"Let her be Kidomaru, is it that much of a big deal?" Sakon calmly asked.
"You know I was in a bad mood today," Kidomaru growled.
Orochimaru contemplated saying something, but decided to watch for the moment being. Kin arrived and served the food, but the general interest, save for Jirobo, was not in the food at the moment, but at the possible fight.
Tayuya placed her flute on her waist band and stood up. "If you want a fight you got it freak!" She yelled.
Orochimaru raised an eyebrow slightly amused. The girl had a temper and she chose her opponents carefully, having posed no resistance to him earlier. She was a long range fighter no doubt about it.
"Damn it, I'll show you!" Kidomaru yelled.
Tayuya jumped backwards and stretched her leg to hold her foot over a spider, a tarantula to be specific. "Back off or I'll squash it!"
Kidomaru froze; his pet had gotten out of its cage again. He tried to keep his cool and pretend like he didn't care. "Why should I care?"
Sakon gave Kidomaru a suspicious look, he was no actor. Kin watched on with an annoyed look and an inaudible "this is so immature."
"Fine!" Tayuya lifted her foot and prepared to bring it crashing down into the spider.
Kidomaru prepared to shoot his strings of chakra to stop her when Orochimaru interfered. "That's enough Kidomaru, I don't want that web of yours all over the dinning room and I have told you time and again to keep your stupid pet tarantula in your room. I don't want my snakes finding it and eating such garbage."
Frustrated and angry, Kidomaru waited for Tayuya to step away from the tarantula before going over to pick it up and take it to his room. Feeling victorious, Tayuya happily strolled to her seat.
"A long range fighter indeed," Orochimaru observed. "Yes, you're a strategist, you calculate moves to attack from afar. That's enough conflict for now. I trust the rest of my dinner will go without interruption?"
"Food," Jirobo muttered as if he was starving, when he was in fact pigging out not too long ago.
"It's in front of you, eat it if it'll make you stop drooling," Orochimaru didn't have to say it twice, Jirobo quickly resumed his eating.
Kin was sitting next to Sakon. She observed Tayuya eating eagerly. "Like it?"
"Yesh!" Tayuya finished chewing and swallowed. "Yes, it's very good, thank you!" Perhaps the black haired girl would be pleasant company after all. She wasn't truly annoyed at the boy sitting next to her. Not even the one pigging out bothered Tayuya now. Maybe she just needed to put some food in her stomach to get into a good mood. "I'm Tayuya. May I ask your name?"
"I'm Kin," the black haired girl who had prepared the food answered.
"Since we're doing introductions, I'm Sakon and this is my brother Ukon," Sakon pointed at his second head. Tayuya was curious about how his brother could be his second head. "The bottomless pit is Jirobo and the guy with the six arms and the spider obsession was Kidomaru. I don't think he's coming back."
Jirobo was annoyed by the bottomless pit comment, but his mood soon changed for the better at hearing the possibility of Kidomaru not returning to the dinner table. "Can have the rest of Kidomaru's food?"
Sakon shrugged, "it's not like he's here to protest if you eat it." That was all Jirobo needed to know before adding Kidomaru's half eaten dinner to his own.
The rest of the meal proceeded quietly and Tayuya's appetite was happily satisfied. She got a generally good impression of Kin and Sakon so far. Jirobo was annoying and as for Ukon, she couldn't tell since his head simply hung behind his brother's as if he were sleeping all the time.
xoxox xox xoxox
After dinner was over, Tayuya followed Orochimaru to a place that looked like a living room. She took a seat on the couch and examined her surroundings like a curious little girl. The entire structure was made of dark brown stone and the atmosphere was quite dark, with only a few candles to provide light. The couch however, was exceptionally comfortable and softer than she expected.
Of course Tayuya did know this was an evil lair and it didn't take a genius to figure out that Orochimaru was a wanted criminal. The soft couch was covered in black leather, giving it an elegant look that didn't quite fit it with the ordinary stone that was found all around. The underground hideout was just full of surprises. In such a short time she had shelter, food, allies and enemies, when she had initially expected to have nothing but death.
"Is there anything I should know about you besides that you play the flute, have dangerous temper and are a long range fighter?" Orochimaru asked.
Tayuya snapped out of her daze and looked at Orochimaru. The way he spoke about her temper made it so she wasn't bothered by his comment, it almost sounded like a compliment. "There's not much else to say, but what did you want to know?" Orochimaru was only asking so he would know what kind of ninja she would be, but that piece of information didn't currently register in her mind. She felt like she was in some kind of interview. She then noticed how casual she was being and after a pause that felt too long and obvious she added "Orochimaru-sama?"
Orochimaru had to stop himself from rolling his eyes and laughing in good humor at her attempt to add his name with the sama at the end of her question and make it look like she intended it to be said that way from the beginning. He wasn't particularly annoyed that she hasn't said it. He just found her effort amusing because it really wasn't that much of a big deal, although he did like the sound of his name with the traditional honorific. It's not like she called him Orochimaru in a disrespectful tone, or Orochi or worse yet Oro-kun. He got mad when his underlings called him by a shortened version of his name, but that didn't mean they had to say his full name at the end of each sentence they directed at him. Her attempt and her apparent confusion at his lack of anger for her mistake were most amusing. "I want to know about your skills as a ninja."
Tayuya blinked and stared, completely taken off guard and absolutely puzzled. She was no ninja, was she expected to become one? Did he for some reason think she was a ninja?
"Is it that interesting to stare at me? Do you want a picture?" Orochimaru was half annoyed and half sarcastic, with a hint of impatience and just a tiny bit of amusement.
"Huh? What? No, I mean... I was..." Tayuya paused and collected her thoughts in a short coherent sentence. "I'm not a ninja."
"Not yet, but you will become one. This is the Hidden Sound, a ninja village. I've already determined you to be a long range fighter so you need to learn jutsus that fit in with your style. Your abilities with the flute may also prove useful. Have you thought about using them in combat?" Orochimaru asked.
Tayuya took another long stare, as if he grew a second and then a third head and possibly a forth. "Um... no," she finally answered. A flute in combat, how could that be? Was she supposed to hit her opponent over the head with it? She could think of no other practical use for a flute in a fight, maybe a distraction, but not a weapon. Then again, maybe the Hidden Sound village was called that for a reason. Perhaps there were sound related jutsus and attacks that she could learn and perform with her flute. Tayuya's curiosity was certainly sparked over the possibilities.
"In that case, you'll need some training." Orochimaru mentally went over a list of people that could help Tayuya train. "You seem to get along with Kin will enough. She can help you with your training. You'll be joining the team along with Dosu and Zaku starting tomorrow. Are you willing to give this training everything you have?"
For a moment, Tayuya wondered if she had anything to give. Sure she had a shelter now, new clothes to wear, food to eat, maybe allies and even one enemy, though she hoped Kidomaru wasn't too angry about the spider incident; but did she truly have anything that belong to her except her flute? Would she give that up? She quickly dismissed the thought as soon as it came. What would Orochimaru want with an old flute anyway? Before becoming lost in thought further, Tayuya replied, "yes, Orochimaru-sama," and with those words, her fate was sealed.
"Good, then you'll start early tomorrow so make sure to get some rest tonight." Orochimaru got up, signaling the conversation was over.
Tayuya also rose from her seat and followed him out of the living room area. She assumed that she was expected to go to her room now, although Orochimaru didn't say anything. The way he made it sound, she was apparently in their group, so perhaps she was trusted to walk around the lair. No doubt there would be certain areas that would be locked up or out of reach. She had no intentions to trespass those areas where she was not allowed, but it would be good to get to know the common areas of the place that was to become her new home. Home, she wasn't sure if it was an appropriate term given the situation, but it was close enough.
Orochimaru walked down the corridor that led to the area where most rooms were located. While Tayuya's wasn't too far, Orochimaru's was further down that corridor, past another door to another section. For the time being, they shared a common path towards their different destinations. Without warning, Tayuya felt something brush against her foot. Something was slithering around near by. With a yelp, she jumped on Orochimaru and held on for dear life and she remembered past events.
xoxox xox xoxox
"Come back here thief!" An angry voice yelled.
The girl being chased quickened her pace as much as she could. With her trusted flute, her only companion, at hand, she ran deeper into the forest. She would soon move on to another village, but for now, that village provided her with unwilling shelter and stolen food. It was the fall season and orange leaves rained all around, while the fallen brown ones were crunched under her hasty feet. She jumped over several large tree roots that stuck out of the ground and landed on a trap. Her feet found ground covered in branches and leaves that were not enough to support her. The branches cracked and the leaves fell along with her. "A hole? Crap!"
"Over there!" "She fell into the trap!" Called the angry voices of the villages in pursuit.
Tayuya knew she had to get out of that pitfall before they came for her, because if they did, she would be outnumbered, overpowered and in a world of trouble. If she put enough distance between herself and her opponents, then it would be different. If they dared to pursue her for too long, then she would hastily collect rocks, climb a tree and throw them at the angry villagers until they left her alone. But of course, she couldn't do any of that unless she got out of that hole.
The pitfall was quite deep and the fall made her bare feet ache, although she was glad that she at least landed on her feet. She looked up at the fall sun, it appeared to be a distant light in the end of a vertical tunnel. Holding her flute in her mouth, she buried both hands and feet into the muddy walls of the hole to attempt to climb out. The effort proved fruitless as she only slipped back down. The walls were too humid and slippery with mud. It appeared that the trap was well planned. She assumed there must be more holes like that. It couldn't be that they only dug one and she happened to fall in it.
"Ah!" "Idiot!" "Get me out of here!" "We'll come back after we get her!" The voices alarmingly close by, proved her theory about the multiple pitfall traps to be correct. It appeared that one of the villages had forgotten about its location and fallen for the trap. Of course she couldn't expect to be lucky enough to have them all fall like that and give her some time to escape her muddy prison.
"Found you," a villager stood over the hole Tayuya was trapped in, looking down on her as if she was a worthless insect. Soon more villagers joined, circling the pitfall. "There's no way out, you'll be punished for your thievery."
Tayuya wondered what they meant, but soon her question was answered when a large snake was thrown into the hole. She screamed and tried to climb out, but slipped back down. The villagers covered the hole, extinguishing the sunlight. It was too dark to see the snake and too small a space to run away. She couldn't climb out and nobody would help her. Worse yet, her instinct told her that snake had to be poisonous and she was right.
It took a long time for Tayuya to kill the snake, after getting bitten several times in the process. It took even longer for the muddy walls of the vertical tunnel she was trapped in to dry off allowing her to climb out. With her flute in hand, she weakly wondered the forest, too feverish to know where she was heading. The immediate symptoms of the poison eventually wore off, leaving her relatively normal. The only difference was that her skin around the bite marks was changing color turning red then purple. The color was spreading and that couldn't be a good sign. Still, she had other things to worry about, such as surviving.
xoxox xox xoxox
"What the hell are you doing?" Orochimaru yelled.
"Snake! Snake!" Tayuya desperately screamed. Her experience was horrible and she hated those ferocious overgrown worms. She heard Orochimaru mention snakes before, but didn't think they would be slithering around freely; she thought he was only exaggerating to give Kidomaru a scare.
"You idiot it won't bite unless you step on it or bother it. Those snakes are my pets, you'll find them all around the lair. If they recognize you as an ally they'll be harmless to you and unless you bother them, they have no reason to identify you as an enemy." Orochimaru tried to loosen the girl's tight grip around his shoulders and tried to get her to put her feet on the ground instead of having her legs wrapped around his waist. Though he had to admit the position wasn't exactly unpleasant, it was rather awkward. Either way, she refused to let go.
"What kind of a ninja will you be if you're afraid of snakes?" Orochimaru tried to reason with her, but it didn't work, nothing worked, she was beyond words.
The only choice was to pull her off and make her hold the snake until she figured out for herself that there was nothing to fear. If Tayuya didn't face that fear and conquer it, she would be screaming her head off every time she crossed paths with a snake and that would happen quite often, given that Orochimaru kept so many as pets, plus he was a snake summoner.
"Tayuya, let me go," Orochimaru spoke as calmly as possible while stroking her hair. Perhaps if he managed to calm her, she would be a little more reasonable.
Tayuya's eyes were tightly closed. Feeling Orochimaru had stopped struggling against her desperate grip, she calmed down a little. He wanted her to work for him as a ninja, so he wouldn't let that snake bite her; she tried to think of that. The snake was a pet to him, so it must be trained. She opened her eyes and looked at the snake. It hissed at her causing her tighten her grip on Orochimaru again.
"You really are a hopeless one," Orochimaru started to get annoyed again, yet he needed the girl to play the ocarina when the time came. He would open that glass box one day. He didn't know why, but he knew it had to be her. To play the flute even when facing death, to have nothing that truly belonged to her except her music. Yes, it had to be her, no doubt her rare talent would be necessary to control a powerful item that worked with music.
"I'm sorry Orochimaru-sama," a few tears escaped from her eyes but she held the rest back. "I'm sorry; I had a bad experience in the past. Snakes scare me, I'm sorry." Tayuya looked at the snake, trying not to feel fear, but the memory of her feverish days of survival before the first symptoms of the poisoning settled down, would always be fresh in her mind.
"Hopeless indeed," Orochimaru bent down and picked up the snake. That certainly made Tayuya let go.
She backed away until she was against the wall. Orochimaru took a step forward with the snake in his arms, Tayuya prepared to make a run for it, but he moved to fast, appearing right in front of her. With no time to stop Tayuya ran into Orochimaru. The snake's long tail go tangled up between two pairs of feet and both Tayuya and Orochimaru ended up on the floor in a position not dignifying of a graceful ninja. "Get it off! Get it off!" Tayuya squirmed against the poor snake that ended up tangled up and squished between the two humans.
"Stay still," Orochimaru ordered, but Tayuya didn't listen. The snake somehow untangled itself, causing Orochimaru and Tayuya to gain an even more uncomfortable and strange tangled up position while doing so. After becoming free, the snake slithered away a little, then turned back to Orochimaru who was at the bottom of the tangled up human pile. The snake looked at him curiously almost as if laughing at his misfortune. "Go away," Orochimaru hissed. The snake quietly slithered away with an air of victory.
Tayuya's face had remained in a frozen expression of terror during the time the snake was there. Her face relaxed and she let her head fall into the man directly below in relief. "It' gone..."
"You will need to get over that fear." Orochimaru could explode in anger there and then, but he was more cunning than that. Revenge was something to be savored. He would enjoy teaching her to lose her fear.
"I know, I know," Tayuya shook her head, as if hinting that it was hopeless. She paused and took a deep breath, she was finally given a chance to be someone; she could be a ninja. Life didn't hand her opportunities on a silver platter often, so when it did, she had to be crazy not to take them. "I will become a fearless ninja Orochimaru-sama, a completely fearless ninja!"
"You shouldn't be completely fearless, you still need to fear me," Orochimaru reminded.
"Huh? What do you..." Tayuya paused mid-question and grew silent, noticing their awkward tangled up position on the floor.
"Exactly, I mean don't jump on me like that again," Orochimaru threatened, but it didn't work. Tayuya was too busy feeling embarrassed to even notice.
Coincidentally, Kabuto walked by, having paused his work, finally defeated by hunger. He stopped and gripped the handle of the golden colored candle stick holder in his hand. The fire of the white candle flickered slightly and silence continued to pour into the room. This time it was Kabuto himself who broke the silence. "Not to intrude or anything but may I ask what you are doing and why are you doing it in the hall if your room is just a few steps away?"
"Kabuto," Orochimaru spoke.
"Yes, Orochimaru-sama?" The silver haired young man smiled innocently, as if he had suddenly forgotten the comment he made a second ago.
"Shut up," Orochimaru glared for emphasis.
"Yes, Orochimaru-sama," Kabuto remained silent, until Tayuya and Orochimaru were once again on their feet.
While Orochimaru glared at no one in particular, Tayuya stared at her feet uncomfortably.
Kabuto once again broke the silence, even if he was told to be quiet before. "That poison is quite slow. You couldn't have gotten it here; otherwise it wouldn't be so developed. That type of poison is to deceive, to make people think that the effect is only superficial until they suddenly die. Why do you still have it?"
It didn't take Tayuya long to figure out what Kabuto was talking about. Even with the limited light of the candle, he was able to see the skin in a dark purple color around the area where the snake bit her several months ago. "I eventually recovered and the poison did nothing but turn my skin purple. I knew there had to be more to it than that, but I couldn't really do anything about it."
Orochimaru plotted. "Well Kabuto, we can't let her run around with poison in her blood. It's only fair that the one who poisoned her delivers the cure."
"The villagers? They weren't even from the same village where you found me. That was a different village far away. Besides, I don't think they even know what the cure is, even if they where forced to give it up," Tayuya voiced.
"That's not quite what I meant my dear," Orochimaru grinned mischiviously.
Kabuto shook his head and smiled wider than before. "You're so cruel Orochimaru-sama."
Tayuya looked back and forth between the two. "What's going on?"
"Nothing, don't worry about it. There's nothing to fear. I can guarantee that you won't be hurt, but you might be a little frightened," Orochimaru replied.
"Frightened? I thought you wanted to cure me. I don't get it," Tayuya was confused and she wasn't sure she would like the answer when she finally understood.
"This way," Kabuto was followed by Tayuya and Orochimaru. After entering the door at the end of the hall, they came to some stairs left and right.
Taking the stairs to the right, they headed deeper underground. They came to a long corridor lit with many torches. At least the light was more abundant than before. At the end of the corridor, there was a door. The entire atmosphere, although it had more light, was more eerie with every step. Tayuya wondered what fate could be awaiting her and just how they intended to cure her of the poison that took away her life so slowly that she hardly noticed.
The door was opened to reveal a well lit room with torches all around it. Mirrors were strategically placed to reflect the light of the candles, making the large chamber look as clear as day. "Right this way," Kabuto walked towards a table. "Now will the patient please lie down on the operation table?"
"Operation?" Tayuya didn't like where this was going.
"I'm sure Kabuto won't take off anything vital like a lung or something," Orochimaru assured.
Tayuya nooded, "I understand Orochimaru-sama. This is part of my training, a ninja has to be fearless. I know there is no operation involved."
"There could be," Kabuto looked exactly like a mad doctor. If he was acting or that was his real expression, Tayuya didn't know. The light reflected and amplified by the mirrors made his glasses glow, giving him somewhat surreal expression that was reduced by the peaceful silver of his hair, but amplified by his insane grin.
"I'm not a coward," Tayuya laid down on the able, taking note of the obviously visible mechanisms behind it. What was this a test of loyalty? As if on cue, Kabuto activated the mechanisms under the table and thick metal belts wrapped themselves around Tayuya. Her confident expression didn't change. She was determined to prove she was a brave ninja.
"I'll leave Kabuto to his work and be back soon," Orochimaru promptly exited the room.
Kabuto applied some ointments to the area near Tayuya's left ankle where she had received the snake bite. "Was it only here?"
"I got another bite on my right arm, that's all," Tayuya felt horribly uncomfortable restrained to the table, which she found to be completely unnecessary, but she wasn't going to complain. If this was some sort of test, she intended to pass.
Kabuto rolled up her sleeve and found the purple area right below her elbow. He repeated the process with the ointments there. "That should do it. How does the skin in that area feel?"
"It doesn't, I mean it feels so numb that I don't feel anything." Tayuya suspected that perhaps there would be an operation involved after all. But what was he going to do, make a cut and extract the poison? "What now?"
"Now we need to wait for Orochimaru. I could inject the antidote myself, but he insisted on this particular method. I'm sure that's what he meant. The ointment will make it painless," Kabuto half-explained.
Although hearing that whatever was going to happen would not involve pain was supposed to put her at ease, it did the exact opposite for Tayuya.
The door slid open and footsteps echoed in the silence of the large chamber. Tayuya closed her eyes once again.
"Get this one ready to give her the antidote," Orochimaru instructed. A snake-like hissing sound was heard, but Tayuya tried to ignore it. "What's wrong, you're scared? I thought you said you would be a brave ninja."
"I'm fine, it's not like it'll bite me or anything." Tayuya tried to reassure herself.
"It will bite you," Orochimaru sounded completely serious.
"What?" Tayuya stammered.
"It's quite simple really, a snake poisoned you and a snake will heal you. One little snake bite and you'll have the antidote." Orochimaru stood behind the operation table leaning forward looking right at Tayuya, except he looked upside down from her point of view when she opened her eyes.
"Right, now I know it's a test. That's not really what will happen," Tayuya insisted.
"Actually, it will be two snake bites. She has a small amount of poison accumulated on her left ankle and right arm," Kabuto revealed. Tayuya tried to look calm and stay still, but when Kabuto brought the snake near her, she couldn't help it but to scream at the top of her lungs and struggle to get free. "She's hopeless; I really don't think this will help her phobia."
Orochimaru was covering his ears. "She's too loud, forget the snake and just cure her before my headache gets worse."
Kabuto shrugged and continued with the real medical procedures. Needless to say a needle looked less scary than a snake for Tayuya. She mentally kicked herself for looking like a coward and became determined to conquer her fear of snakes no matter what.
xoxox xox xoxox
Tayuya's formal training as a sound ninja began and she did quite well. She soon advanced to be one of the elite Sound Five that later became the Sound Four, after Kimimaro's illness took a turn for the worse. She also became known because after living at the Sound Village for a while, she started showing what a colorful language she really had once she overcame her initial shyness.
It had been over a year since Tayuya's arrival and Orochimaru had announced that in a few more months, he would attack the Hidden Leaf Village. Everyone was very busy with their training in preparation, but Tayuya always took a moment to herself every day. Instead of having a lunch break with the other sound ninja she would run off somewhere on her own in her own little quest to stop fearing snakes. She could be around them without screaming her head off, but she was still not as used to them as the others.
"Do you like snakes that much?" Tayuya nearly jumped out of her skin at the sudden voice. An elite ninja of the sound shouldn't have been surprised like that. In a split second she was facing her opponent with her flute ready. "No need to worry. I'm one of Orochimaru-sama's ninja too."
Tayuya looked at the young man before her. He was wearing a sound village head band but she had never seen him before. "I'm with the Sound Four and I know everyone from the Sound Village." She paused and turned. At least this time she noticed there was someone behind her before he spoke. "Orochimaru?"
"Yashagoro here is one of my strongest ninja," Orochimaru revealed. Tayuya looked at the man called Yashagoro. There was something very familiar about him. His eyes looked like Orochimaru's eyes. "Since you like snakes now, you can feed them," Orochimaru tossed a bag of home made snake food at Tayuya, which she easily caught.
"Right, no problem," she wasn't too happy about her new chore, but didn't protest. Without another word, Orochimaru left and Tayuya looked at the snake near by. She had been purposely visiting it often to become more used to being around snakes without risking arising suspicious from the others, since Orochimaru and Kabuto were the only ones who knew of her fear, which was practically completely gone by then anyway. Unknown to Tayuya, Yashagoro was actually Orochimaru in disguise and the one who appeared as Orochimaru, was a shadow clone.
Tayuya set the bag down and opened it. "Eat up!" It's not like she was going to hand feed the snake.
"They won't trust you like that," Yashagoro took a handful of snake food and let the snake eat it from his hand.
"Who are you, the new fucking snake expect?" Tayuya was fine by herself, she wasn't sure she liked the new company.
'I need to make sure she has total loyalty to me before letting her use the ocarina,' Yashagoro thought. "I apologize if my presence irritates you," Tayuya blinked, then stared and finally laughed. "What's so funny?"
"No one apologizes around here, some sound ninja you are," Tayuya replied.
"I suppose you expect my language to be like yours?" Yashagoro asked.
"Do you have a problem with my language bastard?" Tayuya was confident and defiant.
"Not really," after Yashagoro's answer, silence consumed them.
xoxox xox xoxox
Their meetings always occurred during that time, when Tayuya was alone, until one day a large bird flew down from the skies unexpectedly and killed the relatively small snake. "Stupid bird!" Tayuya began to play her flute, causing the bird to fly around in strange patters and crash harshly into the ground. "Serves you right!"
This time she heard Yashagoro coming, or maybe he wanted to make his presence known. "Isn't it a waste? To use your skillful gen-jutsu on a hawk."
"Why? Should I use it on you instead?" Tayuya retaliated.
"In a bad mood I see," Yashagoro approached the area where the snake used to live. "Well since you avenged it, I guess this little one is yours."
Tayuya approached to see what he was talking about. There in the bushes, there seemed to be a small snake, just hatched. "You've got to be kidding me. I don't want that damn thing."
"Don't you want to keep it as a pet?" Yashagoro picked up the tiny snake and held it for Tayuya to take.
"I guess I could give it to Oro, but I could also leave it there," Tayuya contemplated her options, finally she shrugged and took the snake. "Might as well give it to him."
"Oro?" Yashagoro asked.
"Orochimaru, don't tell me you didn't know that, stupid," Tayuya rolled her eyes.
"Yes, I know who you mean, it's just that I've never heard anyone call him that," Yashagoro replied.
"Now you did," Tayuya took the snake and started heading back to the hideout.
xoxox xox xoxox
The snake got attached to Tayuya and didn't want to leave her. "Looks like you'll have to keep this one," Orochimaru had raced back taking an underground shortcut and got rid of the disguise.
"No way, I don't want a pet snake." Being able to get along with them was one thing, but keeping one as a pet was going a bit too far. However Tayuya's got stuck with a pet. It would crawl on her head while she was sleeping and it bothered her at first, but later she got used to it and resigned to have a living tiara.
One's life could flash before their eyes in a moment close to death. Tayuya remembered how Kin would bother her about liking Yashagoro, whom they didn't know was Orochimaru. Only from Kin did she put up with that. The others were not allowed to say a word about it, save for Kimimaro's suspicious smiles and Kabuto's knowing looks.
It wasn't until just before her mission isolating the battle between Orochimaru and Sarutobi during his attack to the Hidden Leaf village that she learned of Yashagoro's true identity. She remembered her mission and how they had to retreat, then later when she went in search of Sasuke, her apparent death after Temari's attack and when she woke up at the Hidden Sound.
From then on, Tayuya was thought to be dead by others, but she lived deep in the tunnels of the Hidden Sound village. She lived and she trained, until one day she was told of the ocarina after it was finally freed from its box. That day she played its melody which was supposed to give Orochimaru power, but instead it made him lose control and now Tayuya was on the verge of death.
He was coming and he would kill her, or rather the curse would kill them both. She would play one last song, not on her flute, but the dreaded ocarina. She played whatever notes came to her mind, with no specific song in mind, until the ocarina melted into sand in her hands, as did the curse and the world around her seemed to fade away.
xoxox xox xoxox
When she woke up, it reminded her of the time she woke up after her supposed death. "Kabuto?"
"That was a close one, it almost killed us all. I'm disappointed in myself to have gotten knocked out early, but then so did Sasuke and everyone else." Kabuto voiced.
"The ocarina?" Tayuya inquired.
"Destroyed, it seems your musical genius was stronger then even the curse and the chakra contained in the ocarina," Orochimaru revealed.
"So you survived it after all. I didn't know right away, but I finally figured it out. The ocarina's power was to grant someone the knowledge of certain gen-jutsu songs to attack and to heal," Tayuya got up with some difficulty. "My flute," Kabuto handed it to her, she was relieved to see that her precious flute had survived the battle after all. Tayuya played a melody they had never heard before and their wounds were healed. "It was all a part of the test, the curse the power that went out of control, all of it and I passed, I heard the melodies coming to me, I was able to listen and understand."
"It seems you've gained a useful power." Just as Orochimaru thought, it was very convenient to have found Tayuya. Though she was supposed to release the ocarina's power and give it to him, the power turned out to be songs, knowledge rather than chakra or the ocarina itself. It was the information contained within the ocarina.
Tayuya held her flute and smiled, thinking about all the things she could do with that power. "The ocarina is gone, that much has ended, but now it's only the beginning."
Disclaimer, I don't own Naruto. The locked chest with the key inside is a reference to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.