The next morning, Iruka knocked on the farmhouse door: calling out, "Obaa-san? It's me, Iruka-sensei from the Primary Academy. Kiro said that you wanted to see me?" He looked into the window, a bit unnerved that he couldn't hear anybody. "Hello~?"
He nearly jumped out of his skin when Obaa-san's body fell against the window, her voice saying, "Well, hi there!"
"Oh, um..." Iruka swallowed the lump in his throat, "Hello Obaa-san. Is..." He carefully looked around, "Is everything alright?"
Obaa-san laughed, the glasses on her face wobbling about, "Of course I am! Why wouldn't I be?" In actuality, the old demoness's body was being held up by Kiro and Hun while Ongakuhana did a good job of imitating her voice, "But I needed to tell ya," At that moment, her glasses fell off of her face: revealing that she was actually sleeping. Alexandr quickly placed them back on, Kira readjusting her head as Ongakuhana continued, "I'm feeling a bit under the weather so I won't be able to make it to the presentation tomorrow."
"Oh..." Iruka gave a sad sigh, "Is that so? Well, we'll just have to reschedule. I hope you feel better..."
Oh, Karma wasn't going to let things go this easily. Kiro's hand slipped from his grip, Hun failing to pick up the slack and causing Obaa-san to fall to the floor.
"What's that?" She woke up, drowsy and confused, "Oh, Iruka! How are you this fine morning?"
"Damn it!" Kire groaned, falling against the floor as Obaa-san caught up to Iruka-sensei, "How did she wake up? She never wakes up from her naps!"
"It's all over..." Kira sniffled, "I wish I could just run and hide..." The group stood in sad silence for a moment. But then Mizuki had a thought.
"You can't run and hide... But someone sure can."
Kakuzu helped Obaa-san get to the grove, the skies grey and winds whipping through the air. From the darkened sky, a silver thunder-bolt shot down. When it was gone, a shimmering mist blew over the trees.
When it landed on the fruit, they all plumped up and grew an ivory sheen: all of them shining like stars. "Heaven Fruit Season is officially here!" Kakuzu announced, Obaa-san tripping over herself, "Are you alright?"
"Of course I am Kuzu." She nodded, getting herself up, "We just need to get all of these picked so me and Kira-chan can make some Heaven Jelly!"
"Oh, Obaa-san," Kakuzu remembered, "Thanks for going to Kira's presentation today."
The stitch-demoness waved her hand, laughing, "Not a problem in sight. Just hope that Iruka-sensei doesn't mind me taking the kids out after I'm done and – Oops!" She cried as she almost tripped over Kiro who was holding up an envelope. "Oh, Bean-sprout! What ya got there?"
"It's addressed to you Obaa-san." Kiro replied, handing the envelope over. Obaa-san quickly opened it, reading it over and laughing,
"Why, Hidako wants me to visit her in Nyanopolis!"
Before she could even consider, Kire and Kire walked over with a day-bag full of travel-necessities, "And you can still catch the 8:30 train!" Kire smiled, Obaa-san mulling over her options before she decided.
"Well, can't keep the poor girl waitin'! But don't you little ones worry," She laughed as she shuffled off, "I'll be back with more than enough time to make the Heaven Jelly!"
The three Hoku triplets waved the older demoness off and, once she was out of earshot, Kiro smiled, "The train-ride to Nyanopolis takes all day!"
"We're safe!" Kire whooped, all of them slapping their hands together.
That afternoon at the Adamant Falls Primary Academy, school had been altogether nice. But Kira began sweating bullets when it came time for Family Appreciation Day. She knew that Obaa-san would still be in Nyanopolis right now. But that didn't stop her from being nervous.
"Alright then children," Iruka announced, "For today's Family Appreciation Day, let's give a big round of applause for Obaa-san!" He waved an arm towards the doorway...
But no one was there.
"Um..." The dolphin-demon cleared his throat, "Kiro, Kire, Kira-chan? Where is your great-grandmother?" Despite Sakon and Ukon glaring at them, Kira gave a 'sad' sigh,
"Sorry Iruka-sensei, she got called out of town on a family emergency and-"
"No..." Kire gasped in horror. Standing there in the doorway with a new straw-hat as big as all outdoors was Obaa-san. Ukon took the opportunity to lean over and hiss into Kira's ear,
"You three are dead!"
Obaa-san shuffled to the front of the room and plopped herself down in Iruka's chair as she spoke, "Now, where to begin..."
"Obaa-san~!" Kira rushed over, whispering, "What happened to going to Nyanopolis? Did you miss your train?"
"Nope!" Obaa-san laughed, "I was able to hope over and back with time enough to get this fancy hat! But anyway, where was I? Oh yes." She brought out three rolls of paper from her day-bag, "Back when I was a young lady, things were mighty different than they are today. I wasn't always the docile old bat that you all see here." She unrolled one paper and everyone gasped when they saw a sienna-tone wanted poster that presented a young woman who looked like a younger, blonde Obaa-san: the words 'Goldie Hoku – 500,000 Bounty' could be read underneath.
"I used to be something of a bandit, believe it or not. Led my own group of thieves all across Terram. But that's not the focus of this story. You see, when I was younger, things were quite different here in Adamant Falls. For you see," She unrolled a new roll of paper, revealing an olden map of the area. However, it was missing a key component. "Back then... There was no Adamant Falls..."
"Hya!" Obaa-san, rather, Goldie Hoku yelled as she led her group of bandits, each on horseback, through the land.
'You see, we were beneficial thieves. We stole from the rich...'
Goldie seized a bag of gold from a foppish young demon, laughing as she rode off. She pushed her horse onward until she stopped at an orphanage: dropping the bag at the door and rushing off.
'And gave to the poor. But, after a while, we started to colect more than money from all over. We collected seeds and fruits as well. We all had a passion for gardening and we decided that the moment we found a place that could support all of the different types of fruits and plants we had, we would settle down with whatever money we had and give up our crime-spree.
One day... We found ourselves in, what was then, Konoha. And it was just as big, if not a bit more rustic, than it is now.'
Goldie and her gang rode their horses into the capital city: each of them trying their hardest not to go on a thieving raid.
'But there was no time to think about stealing anything, no matter who could use it. Because there soon came the most regal, powerful, elegant collection of creatures Terram has ever seen or hosted: the Ten Celestials.
Out of them, the wolf-deity Gobi no Hokou looked upon us and beckoned me over. He told me that he could sense our hearts' true intentions, despite our rugged appearances, and that we were seeking a place to settle down.
"Are you not a Hoku?" Gobi asked, Goldie nodding,
"Yes sir, I am. But I would rather go out and help people rather than sit and be waited on hand and foot." The blonde stitch-demoness sighed, hand on her hip, "I wish that we didn't have to resort to thievin', but this here world is tough. 'Specially on the little ones."
Gobi gave a solemn nod before looking to the other thieves: some of them even had children with them. And they seemed so weary of traveling...
"Hm..." The silver-haired deity thought for a moment, "I think that I have a solution that will work out for everyone."
He led us to an area by the coast that had a mountain and waterfall on one side, the Yonko Forests on another, and it all sat by the Adamant Sea.
We quickly got to work: we cleared out enough land to start a small farm and we built ourselves a home. Next, we wasted no time in planting our vast collection of seeds and sowing them into the land. However...'
The children were all crying to the adult thieves, the lack of food getting to all of them. "I'm hungry!" Goldie's son screamed, Goldie giving him her small loaf of bread.
'Fruits and vegetables don't grow over-night. So, one night, I had to steel my resolve and journey into the Forests. I had been warned that there were dark magics and fiends inside, but if they were living in there, then there had to be food. And I had a family to feed.'
Goldie, rope in one hand, sword in another, rushed into the forests: trying to ignore the vicious noises and cold howls that she heard.
The blonde trekked high and low, inspecting strange, new plants as she went. At first, nothing seemed to be on the edible side. But then...
'My eyes widened near as big as my head when I found myself in the presence of the most wondrous fruit trees. They were beautiful! They were fragrant! They were...'
"Delicious!" Goldie moaned as she bit into one of the ivory fruit. She took off her shirt, making a simple bag, and began to quickly fill it with as much fruit as she could muster.
Right when she was about to squeeze in one final sample, there was a savage growl of, "Cease your actions at once..."
"Says who?" Goldie turned, the fruit in her hand dropping as she saw who had made the noise. It was a massive wolf: half of its body a midnight blue and the other half a sparkling, lunar white. It's opaque eyes stared into space but its nose sniffed Goldie out: the beast moving closer, fangs being bared as it growled.
'That beast... was the Eclipse Wolf. And, mark my words, he's one of the most dangerous creatures the Yonko Forests have to offer, let me tell you.'
"You're trespassing into my wood, stealing my fruit..." The Eclipse Wolf began to circle the stitch-demoness, it's blind eyes narrowing and widening at appropriate intervals, "Tell me why I shouldn't kill you now?"
Goldie gulped, thinking what she could do to get out of this. Finally, she keyed in on the Eclipse Wolf's blindness, "You... haven't had any of these fruit, have you?"
"Or any fruit for that matter," The beast growled, "My nose is only meant to smell meat, blood. Not plant-life. But I do protect this grove to the last."
"Hear me out on this," Goldie took a fruit from her bag and carefully reached a hand towards the beast's maw. "Now, don't bite me," She warned, "But try this." The Eclipse Wolf gave a warning growl before its long, black tongue reached forward and grabbed the fruit from Goldie's hand. He didn't say anything, but the content murr that vibrated through his chest gave Goldie her desired response, "If you let me go now, I'll come here every year and pick some fruit for ya. Not just that, but I'll give you a third of what ever has grown on my farm. How's that sound?"
"A pleasing offer..." The Eclipse Wolf hummed, "But how do I know that you'll keep your end of the bargain?"
A clever smirk grew on Goldie's lips, "I'll show you."
Goldie's heart was still pounding in her chest as she made it back to the house. However, when she heard a lonely howl from the Yonko Forests, she knew she couldn't go to sleep just yet. So, she grabbed a pot and pan from one of their wagons and clanged them together: to tell the Eclipse Wolf that she remembered their bargain.
'The very next morning, we planted those trees and watched in awe as they sprouted up and burst into bloom. And every year afterwards, I would watch out for the special signs leading up to harvest-time. How the weather would change, how the Eclipse Wolf would howl to remind me of our bargain, and, most important, how there would always be an abundance of fruit: plenty for us and the Wolf.
The fruits of our labor were the sweetest, most succulent produce and baked goods ever crafted. Soon after, I started messing around with a recipe for a special sort of jelly. I learned that, like Harvesting the Heaven Fruit, Heaven Jelly was a finicky thing.
You have to be extra kind to the red wasps before you take their honey... You have to give the glass jars a stern talking to... You have to sing to the water for the trees...
Soon enough, demons and creatures from all over came to buy the Heaven Jelly: some insisting that it had special properties, others just because it tasted good. So many of them came that a lot of them decided to stay and build up home in this new area, helping to build homes and cultivate the land. In fact, Sakon, Ukon, your daddy came to Adamant Falls when he was barely taller than my knee. The Heaven Jelly is actually what filled him up with so much emotion that he started acting.
My sons and daughters... Well, they soon left to go live the 'Hoku way of life' with the money I had earned with the Heaven Jelly, but I chose to stay.
Besides, I had a town to look after. My new settlement of Adamant Falls.'
All of the children in the classroom sat stock still, some of them with their mouths gaping open in shock.
Then, a soft clapping from Alexandr.
Then from Mizuki and Hun.
Before long, everyone (that is, except for Sakon and Ukon), were clapping and cheering for the old demoness in front of them. "Now, calm down young ones..." Obaa-san chuckled, Ongakuhana asking,
"So if it weren't for you and the Heaven Fruit, Adamant Falls wouldn't even exist?"
"Pretty much, yep." Obaa-san nodded. Kire took the moment to lean over to Sakon and Ukon and smile,
"If it weren't for our Obaa-san and the Heaven Jelly, your dad wouldn't be the actor he is today." The twins gulped as they were made the center of conversation. Finally, Sakon snapped,
"But she's just a crazy old lady!"
"Sakon!" Iruka shouted, immediately apologizing to Obaa-san before he walked over and grabbed both of the twins' ears, "I think you two need a nice time-out while I go call your father."
Later on, in a kitchen that had been painted in rainbow polka-dots, Obaa-san was busy stirring a boiling pot of milky sap: the Heaven Jelly in its raw form. Kira was busy keeping the fire hot with freshly cut wood. However, when Obaa-san held out a spoonful of jelly, Kira happily lapped it up.
"Heaven Jelly!" Hidan called out while the kids were setting up a stand to sell the pure, ivory jelly. There was even a line forming outside of the farm and sales hadn't even started yet!
But Obaa-san had been kind enough to set aside a jar of Jelly for the Chakra-Mark Musketeers to sample.
"Mm-mm!" Ongakuhana happily sighed as she took a bite of bread slathered with the special treat, "This is the best Heaven Jelly yet!"
"Darn straight!" Obaa-san shuffled over, laughing as she patted Kira on the head, "My little snow-pea here is one heck of a jelly-maker!"
Kira smiled, hugging the demoness's knee, "Thanks Obaa-san." Kakuzu walked by carrying a basket of Heaven Fruit, smiling,
"So I take it that Family Appreciation day went well?"
"Better than well!" Kira beamed, Kiro explaining,
"We learned a lot about Obaa-san that we never would have before."
"She's, like," Kire bit his lip, thinking of what to say, "Super special and stuff! We just..."
"Forgot that for a while..." Kira's ears drooped, Obaa-san laughing,
"Don't fret snow-pea! I forget things all the time! Now, um..." She hummed for a bit, forgetting what she needed to do. She then abruptly remembered, "Who wants to help me sing to the water?"
The children all cheered and rushed to follow Obaa-san. Hidan walked over and helped to turn the sprinklers on, everyone beginning to sing and dance through the spraying water. However...
"Daddy~!" The cry came from Sakon and Ukon as Orochimaru was shoving them to go dance with the other children, "We don't want to!"
"Too bad!" The snake-demon hissed, "Trying to embarrass me- MOVE!"
The ivory-white jelly was spread over a slice of wheat bread, Kakuzu working quickly and calmly, before he handed it to his grandmother. "Thank you kindly Kuzu." Obaa-san smiled before taking a bite.
The two stitch-demons sat on the back porch of the farmhouse, Tsukuyomi's moon and stars shining in the night skies above. Stitch-demons were, naturally, a quiet bunch: so just the two of them sitting there, Obaa-san in her rocking chair, Kakuzu sitting on the ground next to her, spoke volumes.
"Beg pardon?" Kakuzu asked, Obaa-san adding,
"Oh, nothing. Just my ramblings." She had been referring to the farm, the family, and the bustling town that Adamant Falls had become. But she was... tired. Besides, the nod she received from her grandson told her that her thoughts had been conveyed. "I think..." She stood up on creaky limbs, "That I'll retire."
Kakuzu stood up as well, "I guess that I'll do one final walk-around of the farm before heading up myself. Oyasumi Obaa-san."
"Sleep well Kuzu." Obaa-san smiled, shuffling inside.
The night was peaceful, cool, quiet. Obaa-san was laying in her room, trying to get some rest after the active days that had passed.
She opened her soft eyes before gently speaking, "I suppose that I've lived a good life. I mean, my son has practically disowned me despite what I did for him. Yet, the gods blessed me with a sweet, honorable grandson to fill the void." The demoness sighed, "And being here for his family and friends has filled my heart with nothing but joy."
"So then..." The figure of Nibi No Nekomata melted in from the shadows of the room: scroll of death in hand, "Goldie Hoku, do you acknowledge that your time has come?"
Obaa-san sat up, staying silent as she thought for a moment. She had always been there to guide Kakuzu and Hidan and the kids. Even when they wandered into Adamant Falls as teens, much to her astonishment, Obaa-san had guided them to the acres of land that Kakuzu had bought and introduced them to farming.
She was the one who helped Hidan get used to being a mother.
Would they really be okay without her?
Finally... she gave a slow nod.
Nibi nodded back, writing the stitch-demoness's name into her scroll in elegant, golden letters. "Then, Goldie Hoku, I wish you safe passage to the after-life..."
There was a soft thud.
"Hey! Get back here and help me with these dishes!" Hidan yelled as Peachy and a few of the other children were about to sneak out. It was another busy morning at Goldleaf Farms: Kakuzu already having started on the fields and Hidan trying to get the kitchen back to a stable order. "Damn." The cat-demon hissed before turning to see Kira trying to put her dishes in the sink. "Go and give Obaa-san breakfast. Usually when she takes so long in getting down here, it means that she wants to eat in her room."
"Okay." Kira carefully took a plate with some bread, a knife, and some Heaven Jelly and began the wary trip upstairs. It was a lot of work, she almost tripped a few times, but finally she made it to her destination. "Obaa-san?" She gently called out as she let herself in. "Obaa-san, its time for breakfast!"
Her ears didn't catch any noise, however, not even that of breathing. Kira stepped further in, trying to see if a simple nudge would wake her great-grandmother. "Obaa-san?" She gently tapped the stitch-demoness's shoulder.
Her eyes went wide as the body's hand slumped over the edge of the bed. Cold. Lifeless.
The plate fell to the floor, shattering as Kira went screaming for help.
Thanks for reading, please review.