During the desecration of a town, Sasori descovers an abandoned mother weeping for her child and decides to make her into the ultimate puppet
Smiling, she lifted the axe.
It had been five years since the destruction of the ancient villages; a memory relished by Orichamaru. The country had been so warm under his feet, wet like a sponge.
Gazing at the sky with eyes the colour of parchment, he had grinned nastily at his accompanying partner from beneath the darkness of his hat. "Such prospects they have never known," he whispered, in a tone faintly reminiscent of a cobra, just before it devoured its prey.
The people there were rice farmers - primal ones at that. their tools were made of wood and their harvest was small. Orichamaru licked his lips thoughtfully as his partner twitched impatiently. A squat creature with all the resemblance of an overfed house pet, steel tail swishing in the sunlight, his bored eyes shone with a flicker of despondency.
"Orichamaru-san," he addressed, " the nibi is not here any more; what is your plan for this town?"
Orichamaru simply smiled and turned to face him.
"Burn it," he said.
Not a grain of rice remained as Orichamaru's men set to work - screams echoed across the country and all the blood that was spilled trickled into the river, until it lay crimson. Orichamaru and his partner wandered through the town, surveying the carnage and destruction smiling and licking his lips at the iron scent of bodies hanging out of burning windows. Such prospects that they never would know.
Their wanderings brought them to a small house just outside of the town - hidden by mist and a plot of overgrown trees, it was unsurprising that such a residence had been missed.
"But never mind," whispered Orichamaru to himself as he approached the front door and stroked the wood.
The owners of the cottage were humble; they grew herbs instead of flowers. Turning to his comrade, Orichamaru smiled.
"I leave this final cut to you, Sasori," he said.
While he was not among the other members of Akatsuki, the redhead known as Sasori resided in a small cottage house on the outskirts of Konoha. Surrounded by a supply of malleable lumber, his happiest moments were sitting in the dimmest of light, carving life into the lifeless.
This cottage had a pond outside with lilies in the centre, birds chirruping happily in the long grass. Indeed, anyone who passed the place on their way to Konoha or Suna would remark on its idyllic appearance.
Dusting chippings from the engraving he had just made and sitting back, the puppeteer squinted in the half light to admire his handiwork. If he was honest, this cherubin face was a mastery of fine craftsmanship, with a button nose and gleaming eyes. He smiled, carving the orifice ready for a jaw.
Pushing open the door, it soon became apparent that he would not have to follow Orichamaru's instruction. The smell of blood was thick in the air, clouding all other perception. Stepping out of Hiruko, Sasori gazed around the front room of the cottage. A dinner table sat in the corner of the room, half set with plates. Whoever had lived there left in a hurry...
Discovering a noise upstairs he moved to the staircase to investigate - though never in a million years could he have guessed its identity. There was a single room at the top, with a bed inside and slumped within was a young woman. The sheets wrapped round her body were a shade of scarlet, at complete contrast to her skin, which was an anaemic tone. She had not noticed his presence and was more interested in reaching for a small bundle on the windowsill.
The noise that he had heard was her cries.
Stepping past her, over to the windowsill, he regarded the bundle she was so desperate to hold. It was a child, newborn in size and appearance. He reached to touch it and the woman's cries grew stronger. She could only have been nineteen.
Lifting the bundle from the windowsill and looking into its face, there was no denying it; the child was dead. The people had abandoned them both the second the town was invaded.
Passing the child to the girl, he watched as she cradled it into her chest, sobbing into it...
RAT TAP TAP
Pushing open the door, the girl peeped inside.
The cottage was dark and stuffy as a cage - filled with the choking scent of wood chippings and horrified faces of half finished creations. She could not see him, but knew that he was there.
"I told you not to disturb me," came his voice, stern and cold in the darkness.
Smiling awkwardly, the girl turned towards the shrub that she had hauled through the forest.
"Sorry Master," she said, "I did not mean to cause any trouble."
Picking up a broomstick, she closed the door, sweeping the dust on an absent doorstep.
Opening her eyes, the girl could not help but marvel at her surroundings. She was surrounded by solid rock, carved into a dome. Laid on her back, her head felt distinctly muffled..but somehow ...
Am I dead? She found herself wondering.
The last thing she remembered, she was dying. The consciousness that her arms were empty struck her like a rock. Where was her child? If she was dead, he would be there, waiting for her.
Scrambling to her feet, the girl immediately fell down again in a kind of tumble. It came as no surprise; she had always been frail.
Born into a self destructive family, the greatest surprise of her childhood had been that she had ever picked herself up from her hands and knees. Her mother forbade her from going outside, constantly reminding her of the harsh truth - her body was frail as a butterflys wing. And so it was that she watched as her brothers and sisters one by one left to become shinobi, while she concentrated on taking care of the house.
The day soon came when her mother could no longer move from the bedroom. While her chores increased, the girl knew deep down that she had been granted her lifelong wish for freedom.
But freedom came at a price - for just one year later she was dying of childbirth in the same room as her long dead mother, whose undoing had proved to be the burden of another mouth.
Gripping at the table she had been lying on, the girl dragged herself to her feet and for the first time properly saw the room she had been designated. Slapping a hand to her mouth, the girl let out a shrill cry.
Limbs lined the walls, along with dry spatters of blood. The table she had just now risen from was akin only to the ones used by doctors in surgery and covered by a single black sheet.
Her heart further thumping in her chest, she glanced at the hand she had slapped against her mouth. It was no longer made of flesh, now wooden and jointed. Shaking, and breaking out in a cold sweat, she looked down at her legs, which were exactly the same.
A door opened behind her and she collapsed, shivering, to her knees. Nothing in this place could possibly be good.
The man that entered was tall and redheaded, wearing a black cloak decorated with red clouds. He looked at her aloofly and for a moment it was as if she was frozen to the spot.
"Is this hell?" the girl whispered, clutching her knees to her chest.
"Only if you wish it so," was the reply.
She glanced up and saw that he was reaching a hand to her, a hand as harsh and wooden as her own. Slowly, she reached out and took it and he pulled her to her feet.
Akasuna no Sasori smiled as he laid his 301st masterpiece on a small table. The day had been long and arduous but the final result was worth it. Pulling a sheet from a small cupboard, he paused to admire his handiwork.
He had to admit that even for a master puppeteer such as himself, the scarlet hair had been difficult to finish, and the innocence of the face had taken him hours.
Limbs and joints were his specialty, and though small, they were perfect.
Laying the sheet down over the puppet boy, he stepped over to the front door, where his companion could be heard singing a lullaby to herself whilst sweeping the doorstep they didnt have.
"Lullaby and goodnight
This is the end.."
Stepping out of the cottage, Akasuna no Sasori turned his hand, causing the woman in front of him to drop the broom in hers.
"Master Sasori!" she immediately said, grabbing the broom from the floor and falling to her knees in shame. "I'm sorry, did my singing disturb you?"
"No," he said. "That's not what I wanted at all. I have a surprise for you."
Her face was twisted by curiosity and she took the hand he extended to her.
"Will I like this surprise?" she questioned, as Sasori pushed open the cottage door and together they stepped into the darkness, where their son lay waiting.