Shinobi Isekai!: Round Three! @morrowyn
I Walk Through the Valley

TADAH! I updated at a decentish time! I'm gonna be travelling all day tomorrow, so I'm gonna write another chapter tonight and post it tomorrow morning before I set out. :)

Kokuo pawed at the barren earth beneath her hooves. In her time as a weapon of war, she'd seen the mindscapes of three different humans. This one was the worst, she thought, and she couldn't help but long for her home range in the Land of Grass. Maybe, if she'd been sealed inside someone from the plains, the confines of her seal wouldn't be so desolate.

Her latest prison was a young child, and, yet, his mind was a drought cracked canyon, a pathetic excuse of a river running through bland grey stone. The sky was frozen in perpetual twilight, neither, nor moon, nor stars to light the way. It was a reflection of his sense of self and she used to it to convince herself he wasn't the sort she wanted to meet, regardless of how lonely she was. It had been a long time since one of her siblings called for her, though she had the feeling one or more were nearby. She hadn't noticed how reliant she was on Son Goku's faint presence until he disappeared from her range. It wasn't the first time he'd done so, but he didn't come back this time. For so long, she wallowed in the unending darkness of her prison's mind, kicking herself for not reaching out to him, herself. Though they were often in range of each other, they learned early on that communicating across seals was the swiftest path to having their seals examined and maybe even changed.

She walked through the canyon, her hooves kicking up dust as she approached the river. Her prison was back in range of Son Goku's, so she could once again sense her younger brother. And one of the elder three. When was the last time Choumei was in range of her? Why was his prison together with hers and Son's? Were the humans at war again?

There was no point in asking such questions, she knew. No one was going to answer them. Her seal served as a solid wall between her and the world outside it. If she wanted to know anything, she would need to reach across the seals to one of her siblings, but the knowledge wasn't worth inviting human scrutiny.

She shook her head and sighed. This was a far cry from the herd life she'd lived on the plains.

A rogue wind had dust billowing in the air and she closed her eyes against it. What was this? Was her prison going through some kind of turmoil? Was the barren canyon going to become a dustbowl? Was it puberty?



She lifted her head, squinting as she tried to look into the heart of the windstorm. She could have sworn…

Kokuo!Yes, it was Choumei. The giant insect was flying right for her, three sets of wings kicking up so much dust she could barely make out his silhouette. I'm coming!

Oh, dear.

She stumbled back in a last minute attempt to avoid her brother as he barreled right for her. All those wings couldn't stop him in time and he collided with her, sending them both tumbling into the trickling creek. Kokuo's hooves kicked out at the open air as she lay on her back, her brother quickly scrambling off of her so she could roll over. His wings were now damp, so he wouldn't be flying anywhere, soon.

Choumei? Why are you here?

To see my baby sister, of course! The insect pulled himself up to his full height, balancing on his central tail as his red orange wings fanned out to dry. He was a magnificent sight. The last time she saw him, he was little more than a grub. Insects underwent more extreme changes over the course of their lives than any other creature, so that made sense, in a way. Still, it was hard to wrap her head around her memories of her brother and the fully grown beast before her. When he'd spoken with her to share strange, cryptic information, it had been with his voice only, since he was 'occupied with other matters'. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed something moving on his left shoulder, a flash of red crawling on the armored chitin.

"Hello Kokuo-san," the thing said, waving at her from its perch. "Thanks for giving this guy a bath!"

It was a human, she realized with a start. Likely the one her brother was stuck inside. Before she could question the giant insect about the parasite crawling around on him and how it knew her name, something else demanded her attention.

Kokuo,Son Goku's voice echoed through the canyon. It's been too long.

She turned to see her younger brother coming up the river, his tails held high behind him. Something was trailing beside him, a small speck at the head of a cloud of dust. Son Goku was walking at a sedate pace, but the human had to run at full speed to keep up. She was delighted to see her siblings, of course, but the question remained: why did they bring their humans with them?

"Kokuo-san!" She turned to look at the red parasite clinging to Choumei. "Don't tell Roshi Son-sensei's name! He has to earn it!"

Oh? She could to that.

Welcome, little brother, she called out to Son Goku, happy to have a legitimate reason to back up her teasing. It has, indeed, been far longer than I would have liked. I am glad to see you both, though I must ask why you have brought these…tagalongs with you.

Choumei chittered, his many arms moving with excitement. Do you remember when I spoke to you? This is Beni! My human!

The human in question waved eagerly at her. Kokuo took a tentative step closer. Ah. It was a child. Bright and happy, just like Choumei, she was smiling ear to ear.

Kokuo, Kokuo! Choumei wiggled all his many arms. Bring your human! Bring him!

She snorted in derision. Why would I do that?


Son Goku's human let out a laugh, yelling to be heard from his place on the ground. "By the Sage, you two are exactly alike!"

"Look who's talking," Choumei's human returned, pointing two fingers at him and Son. "Grumpy face duo!"

Both Son Goku and his human scowled in tandem.

Kokuo,Son Goku said with a sigh. Bring the boy. He has been removed from the village which forced you inside of him, so neither of you will be punished for this.

Oh, is that so?

It made little difference to her, really, but it did lessen her resistance to know that the child wouldn't be killed for her actions.

Why? She asked again. Why are you two here? Why should I bring the child here, as well? I do not understand what you are hoping to accomplish.

Kokuo, please—.

"So we can be friends!"

She turned to look at Choumei's little passenger again. The child was jumping up and down, bursting with energy.


"Yeppers! BFFs! He's stuck with you for the rest of his life, right? He may as well be your friend! And he's nice! And suuu~per lonely! You'll outlive him, anyway, so what's the big deal about being his friend?"

Well…she wasn't wrong. Still, Kokuo was apprehensive.

"You should at least meet him!"


Kokuo reached out with her chakra, filtering through the seal and into her prison's mind. She yanked on him, pulling him down into his barren mindscape. He popped into existence on the bank of the river and Kokuo could feel his anxiety and fear.

"Han-chan!" Choumei's human leapt from his shoulder, landing beside Kokuo's with a bright smile. Son Goku's, too, joined the children.

This was the first time Kokuo had ever seen her current prison. She stepped forward, extending her neck down toward the group of humans. They were all rather small, but hers was the tallest. This was despite his youth. He was a long-legged colt, all elbows and knees and clumsy height. How young was he? She was a little fuzzy on the growth rate of humans. Was he a baby? A juvenile? Did humans undergo metamorphoses, like Choumei?

Her brothers' humans stood aside as her face got closer to them, allowing her to sniff at her keeper.

He stood stock still, ramrod straight as his fear ran through them both. Her tails swished with agitation, flicking her sides as she took a closer look at him.

I am Kokuo, she told him, letting him feel the full force of her voice. Who are you, bearer of my seal?

He was frozen in fear, but he managed to stutter something out.

"My n-name is H-Han."

Han. A simple name, but a good one.

Han, she continued. What do you know of me?

Fear flared through him again.

"Nothing," he admitted quietly. "Just that you're inside me."

Hm. About as much as she knew of him, then.

How old are you, Han?

"E-eight," he answered.

And what does that mean? Are you a child? A juvenile?

Choumei's human answered for him, raising her hand to catch Kokuo's attention. "We're kids! Humans reach full physical maturity at twenty five, but we can breed and stuff before that!"

"Why do you know about breeding?" Son Goku's human demanded angrily. "You're too young to be thinking about that!"

She sniffed at his upset, crossing her arms and pointing her nose in the air. "I'm the product of breeding, you know. Not everyone can hatch from a boulder, fully formed."

Han stood between his shorter compatriots, a living buffer between them as they bickered.

So, he wasn't just a child, but a very young child. Some of Kokuo's resentment towards him faded.

How old were you when you received my seal, Han?

"Um, I w-was six." He was gaining confidence.

"Me too!" Choumei's human exclaimed, wrapping her arms around Han's shoulders with a happy squeal. "Yay! Seal buddies!"

Hmm. Son Goku's human was correct. There was a great deal of overlap between the girl child and the giant beetle. It made her wonder if there was anything shared between her and Han.

Likely not, given how little they'd interacted.

Kokuo pulled he head back from the humans, leaving them on the bank of the river—which looked much bigger with them beside it—as she turned back to her brothers. Son Goku wore an insufferably smug expression and she flicked him with one of her tails. Choumei didn't have a face, but his wings were vibrating with anticipation.

Well? He asked, voice lilting the same way his human's did. What do you think? He's nice, right?

Hmm, I suppose.

You always suppose, Son Goku grumbled. Just say yes or no.

Yes or no.


"What do you think? She seems nice, right?"

Han hummed in response to Benihime's chipper question. "I suppose."

"It's a yes or no question, kid," Roshi scolded good naturedly. "Just pick one."

He wasn't sure if he could. He was still reeling from the revelation that Benihime was also a jinchuriki. It made sense, now that he thought about it. Why else would she be so kind to him and Roshi? No normal human would ever willingly associate with a jinchuriki.

Although, now that the Konoha shinobi was gone, there weren't any normal humans to worry about. That was probably why she and Roshi had finally revealed her identity as the Nanabi's container. Han had a hard time understanding how she could be so happy despite her status, but, after she explained that her beast had taken her from her village the instant the seal was placed, he had a better idea of how it was possible. She'd never been a jinchuriki around people. Plus, it was becoming clear from watching the bijuu interacting that the Nanabi was a rather happy creature.

"It's ok," she said, patting his shoulder. "You don't have to make up your mind, yet. You only met her today!"

"Yeah," he said quietly. "Do all bijuu live here?"

Benihime shook her head with a laugh. "Nope! This is inside your seal! I'm pretty sure it's a reflection of your mind."

Oh. That was…interesting. So, the nighttime canyon was his mind?

"Mine is a H—an academy! Choumei sits on the…training field!"


Both children turned to Roshi, questions in their eyes.

He crossed his arms with a scowl, but he answered all the same. "Mine's a cave behind a waterfall."

Benihime laughed raucously. "As expected of the Monkey King." She slapped her hands over her mouth, looking at Roshi with wide, fearful green eyes.

A grin began to spread across Roshi's face, his beard obscuring the expression but not the malice behind it. He turned around and bellowed at the three bijuu.

"Hey! You old ape! I have a name for you!"

Benihime began chanting apologies, her words muffled by the hands still covering her mouth. Han was confused. Did Roshi not know the Yonbi's name? If not, then how did Benihime know it?

The Yonbi turned his terrifying face toward them, massive teeth gleaming. Oh? Let's hear it, then.


Benihime almost fell over and Han thought he might join her when the Yonbi started laughing.

"That's not it!" Benihime said with a laugh of her own. "I didn't know you guys had a Hanuman! Is he your Monkey King?"

Roshi's scowl was dark and Han jumped to answer her question before he could vent his anger on her.

"Yes. He's a God in the Land of Earth. He has a couple of temples, but I've never been to one."

Benihime nodded, but there was light in her green eyes that set Han on edge.

"So," she drawled. "You're telling me that there's an entire religion dedicated to a monkey god, but zero connections have been made to the giant talking monkey over there? I see, I see."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

She sighed, patting Han's shoulder in a way that had him feeling somewhat insulted. "The temple we live in was built for Choumei. There's a Clan of bug people who worship a god with that name, but they've forgotten he belongs to it. It's actually pretty sad when you think about it." She laughed mirthlessly. "God of Shinobi my ass. He's only a god because he sealed all the other ones away."

Han wasn't sure what she was talking about, but he knew better than the speak when both she and Roshi were scowling.

Was there a monkey Clan in Iwa? Not that he could remember. A horse one, either, though…Kokuo didn't exactly look like a horse. He was afraid to ask, though, lest he be stomped to death beneath her hooves.

"Hey, sensei!" Benihime called out to the bijuu. "Have you ever been called Hanuman?"

The Yonbi scratched under his chin just like Roshi sometimes scratched his beard. Not that I can remember.

Wait, she was calling the Yonbi sensei?

Han was about to ask about it, but Kokuo spoke, her tails swishing back and forth in a visual cue to her agitation.

That is enough. Having all of you here cannot be healthy for Han. You can continue your conversations out there.

As Han was kicked out of the seal, he noticed the sun rising over the lip of the canyon.

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