FrostedCaramel

God's in His Heaven, All's Right With the World.
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, A Few Posts a Week
My Usual Online Time
Whenever you're asleep, thanks time zones.
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Mainly passive, can be aggressive if the situation requires such.
Favorite Genres
Sci-Fi, Modern, and Horror.
Long Knife - Part VI Yamada Suzu "Rabbit"| Claw Country, Outskirts of the City of Yakurao
  

Suzu, heavily injured, slips in and out of consciousness as she recovers dreaming all the way. She then speaks with the Zero Team member Eros, who sheds a bit of light on the way that the remaining members of the Zero Team are holding up.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
  
Her fevered dreams had sent her down an ever twisting rabbit hole. She’d seemingly flashed in and out of comprehension of the strange surroundings as she slept. A world full of trees hanging from the sky or a land covered in the webs of spiders as far as the eye could see. She’d forgotten them for the most part, a few fragments of a memory, the faint after thought of something having once consumed her focus but no longer perceptible as it simply faded into the distance. There was one dreamscape that she remembered well though. An ocean. Stretching as far as she could see and colored a deep blue like none she’d ever witnessed in her life.

Wind had whipped at the water’s surface, growing white caps that frothed up against the side of her small rowboat and sprayed her with a salty mist. She’d sat in that boat for an eternity, the wind gusting up against her and the never ending ocean spray soaking her through to the bone, but she wasn’t cold. No matter how wet she’d become and how hard the wind blew she remained warm. Comfortable where she sat dripping and battered by the wind. It had been unsettling, but it was nothing like what was to come next.

One moment she had been watching the white caps crashing against the hull of her boat, the next, the ocean was completely calm. The wind was gone and she was all but dry. Slowly she’d taken in her surroundings and noted the eerie calm that had settled over the waters surface. Clouds had rolled in over head, a deep gray that blocked the sun completely and left the water a mirror of obsidian from which she’d found her reflection staring back at her. She’d watched the obsidian waters, watched herself, for quite a while before she’d felt she wasn’t alone anymore.

The girl from before, the ghost, sat on the far side of the boat, its legs dangling over the side of the boat and kicking backing and forth like a kid on the edge of a dock. Its feet didn’t touch the water, though whether it was by design or coincidence Suzu couldn’t tell as she watched the ghost.
“Can I do something for you?” Suzu had asked the ghost from where she sat, a small look of confusion growing across her face as the ghost appeared not to notice her just as the ghosts from earlier in the day had paid no heed to her. She stood up, staying low as she moved through the small boat to reach for the ghost, the small ripples her movement created the only thing breaking the perfect mirror of the water around her as she got closer to the girl, “Excuse me?” she asked again as she reached a hand out to touch the girl. Grasping at the ghosts shirt she tugged once and found her words unable to come as she realized who the girl was, “Why…?” she began before grasping harder at the cloth and tugging again, “Why are you here?” the ghost still didn’t seem to notice she was being talked to. Suzu sighed and decided to call out it’s name to try and get its attention, an old wives tale she’d heard about spirits only responding to those that proved to know their names.

“I know who you are, you’r--” the ghost looked directly at her for the first time and Suzu felt regret well in her stomach.

The world had changed suddenly. The boat was no longer beneath her, but instead she was looking up at the bottom of it as she sank beneath the obsidian surface of the water. She struggled to rise, to swim to the surface, to the air she knew was there, but it was as if she was being pulled further into the abyss. The dark water around her was becoming colder with every passing second, the boat becoming further away and harder to make out against the small rays of light that shone through the water and down toward her. She thrashed and swung her body in agonizingly slow motions as the water stopped her from moving as fast as she’d have liked. She spun herself around enough to notice the phantom of a tendril that had snaked up from beneath her and slipped itself around her abdomen like the tentacle of some giant sea monster. Stories that sailors told flashed through her mind and she began to beat her fists at the ghost of a limb wrapped around her only for her fists to pass harmlessly through it as it pulled her deeper and deeper.

She jerked awake to a sense of helplessness as she couldn’t bring herself to move more than a few inches in any direction. The tendril at her stomach had turned into two arms holding her thrashing body down as Atlas worked at her side. From beneath her view Eros leaned up from holding down her torso to be above her face where she could see him clearly, ”Rabbit you need to stop moving or Atlas can’t work. And you’ll get the attention of the guards, you have no idea how loud you’re being so shut the fuck up and stop moving.” he said calmly to her as he continued to hold her down. At her shoulder Atlas was working, digging into the gruesome injury she had been given by the man with the curved swords from the Resistance. He was holding a set of tools, plier-like things that were buried more than half way into her shoulder and seemed to be delving deeper with every second that passed.

There was a sound like scraping metal and bone followed immediately by a flare of pain so intense Suzu was blinded for a few seconds. When her sight came back to her in a rush she was just in time to see Atlas dropping the tip of the curved dagger into a small bowl of water by his side. He sighed and turned to Suzu, the look he gave her was a sorry one as he got to work suturing her shoulder closed.

”That one’s my fault completely. I missed it the first time around, hadn’t expected it to be in there and hadn’t looked. Careless of me.” he admitted as he tied off a suture and cut it, “You might lose this arm. Worst case you die. That was in there too long God knows what sort of infection you might have brewing.” he said solemnly, a tinge of regret evident in his voice and in the way he looked down at her with a lack of luster in his eyes, “I’ll do what I can though Rabbit.” he said as she slipped off into her fevered dreams once more.

The next thing Suzu knew she was standing at the center of a dirty cobblestone road. Buildings stretched on either side of her in both directions, and spoke of their origins by simply existing. She knew where she was, had been there a handful of times now, standing among the streets of Magnhild had always been a bit of a sobering experience when it came to scale, though this oddly empty version of Magnhild brought no sense of awe over the cultural icon, no sense of being among something bigger than she could ever be, instead it was wrong. The streets were too clean, too empty, the buildings uninhabited and desolate beyond their outer shells. She walked up to the closest building and placed her hands on the window as she peered through onto a small table set for dinner. Silverware and plates were laid out nicely and the chairs all pulled out to allow for someone to sit easily in them but there was no light coming from the lanterns. Everything was off inside except for the setup of the table.

She moved back to the middle of the road and looked up it toward the second wall of Magnhild, the second line of defense that separated the inner-citadel from the outer districts of the city. A howling started low from behind her as she studied the tops of the wall for any movement, any sign that she wasn’t alone in the city. The howling grew louder until she was forced to face the incoming noise. Her hair was thrown out behind her and her clothes flapped in the wind that had set on her. The howling hadn’t brought only the wind, but a new version of Magnhild for her to view now lived and breathed before her eyes, a version of the city she knew well.

The sky was mottled by the heavy streaks of black from the burning lower city. Arcs of fire screamed through the air and crashed into the buildings ahead of her with massive crashes, throwing debris up in plumes of smoke though these siege engines were not what scared Suzu the most about the barrage that Shoji’s forces had unleashed upon the city. What scared her most were the new siege engines, things called “bombards” or “cannons” depending who you’d gotten a chance to ask about the weapons during the siege. They sounded their assaults with small noises barely audible over the sounds of the barrage around her, but ended them with a myriad of noises that set the mind alight in fear of what they heralded. Whooping shell falls foretold of the incoming projectiles, a strange high-pitched noise that simply came from somewhere “above” and ended in deafening detonations. So huge they pulverized parts of buildings, so loud they shook the very air in your lungs. Blinding flashes of flame and shrapnel meant to maim and kill the enemies, and for those that didn’t die they were meant to terrorize. To shake the very will of a man to do battle against such an uncaring and relentless assault.

Suzu found herself instinctively ducking at the high-pitched scream of a shell falling somewhere high above her. She threw herself into the side of a building and watched with a strange fascination as the shell fell in slow motion in front of her. A large spherical shot, larger than the head of a man and spinning with nauseating speed as it hurtled into the cobblestones and detonated. A bloom of fire, preceded by the shattered metallic casing of the ball fanning out in all directions to kill with impunity. As quick as she had watched it happen it was over. The fireball had dissipated and the shrapnel had either found its way harmlessly into buildings or into the soldiers unlucky enough to be in their paths. There were soldiers now, ghosts, but soldiers still.

She almost shied away from the sight in front of her as men simply crumpled over from the weapon. Twisted and mangled into forms no human should be able to take, or maimed so badly they fell from ruined limbs and struck the ground screaming or completely silent and unable to process what had happened fast enough. There was a yell, or at least she could tell there had been one from the way the ghosts opened their mouths and brought their weapons to bare.

The group of soldiers, those that remained capable of combat, smashed into an opposing line of ghosts, these ones the enemy, the Shoji forces. Weapons flashed and men fell, and within it all she noticed the ghost from before, the girl she knew. Older than she’d seen her before, her mid-twenties was a good guess, and fighting an almost unwinnable battle for her very survival. For the very survival of a nation

Suzu stood and watched the brutal clash with a sense of dread, a sense of helplessness as the battle progressed to its ultimate conclusion, a conclusion she knew was coming long before it did. There was a whooping sound, one among many, low and short from somewhere off in the distance and none of the soldiers seemed to have heard it. Suzu raised her arms and pointed in the direction of the first wall, out towards the weapons on the other side of it as she screamed her silent warning at the ghosts but they didn’t hear her, like every time before.

The whistle of the shell came suddenly, and without any second thought as to where it was going to make its landing it fell directly in the center of the clash. Soldiers from both sides found themselves dead so quickly they hadn’t even the chance to realize the fact. Limbs were torn from bodies with the force of the impact, the crump of the detonation and the ensuing pressure wave so close to them pulped armor and men like a small child might crush grapes and the shrapnel, the shrapnel killed indiscriminately as it made its way from the center of the blast in straight lines of unavoidable death. Men far enough from the blast fell in showers of blood and limbs as the debris moved through them with such speed as to kill the next two men behind them as well. Suzu placed her hand over her mouth as she held her scream and watched the carnage come to its sudden conclusion.

She stared a while, surveying the damage the single weapon had brought upon the enemy and its own allies. She wondered if the operators of the weapon even knew they’d killed a dozen of their own, wondered if the commanders of the Shoji force had factored the indiscriminate nature of these weapons into their losses. Had decided to use such foul weapons to ensure victory? She wondered if they had had them, would they have used them against the Shoji force with the same effect if it would ensure their own victory?

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sudden movement of one of the corpses strewn across the road. A small movement, as if whoever it was wasn’t entirely sure they were still alive followed by a grasping of a hand at the cobblestones. A dismembered torso shifted slightly followed by it rolling completely off of the person it covered. Still watching as the girl got to her knees Suzu noted that the movements were slow and thoughtful like that of the very old or fragile as the girl would reach up and remove the porcelain rabbit mask from her face.

Suzu was staring now, out at her comrades, at what was left of them. She dropped her mask and stood slowly as she surveyed the road to find no one else had survived the blast. She shuffled around for a while looking for her katana before simply grabbing one that had survived the detonation and beginning a slow limp back to the second wall. She stopped suddenly and looked to the edge of the road at the shimmer of a ghost she was sure had just been there, a woman nearing her thirties with a face so familiar it hurt to not understand who it was. By the time she was looking directly at where the ghost had been it was gone.

The room was empty when she awoke this time. An odd stillness had fallen over the Zero Teams hideout, a place that when she’d first arrived had seemed somehow jovial given the circumstances of the country. Now it was quiet. The lanterns were out and she was laying on a couch that smelled of sickness and felt the part beneath her clammy skin. She rolled slightly to get a better view of the room and a firey pain overtook her side that lasted only a moment before disappearing entirely.

“A--” her voice began the start of a noise but quickly her throat decided the alien sounds were not to be made as protested in dry agony, “A---” she tried again and tears welled in her eyes as her throat burned so fiercely she would have thought she’d swallowed a coal had she not been so out of it. Slowly she moved herself to the edge of the bed, her arms coming out from beneath her and her injured shoulder voicing its opinion on the idea with every jolt it sent through her chest. She shuffled a bit more and yelped as she found herself falling to the floor with a sudden crash.

Not staying where she was for long Suzu hoisted herself up the couch with her good arm before taking a few shaky steps in the direction of the sink on the far side of the room. She reached the table after almost a minute and stopped to look at the collection of papers strewn about it. Clippings from papers or handwritten notes by one of the team, an amalgamation of things so random and unclear it seemed almost normal. Suzu reached for one and lost her balance, favoring to take a knee over toppling over she’d throw herself into the table with both arms stretched out, her fingers grasping at the far edge like a man falling from a cliff as she would heave her breaths in and out through her now aching ribs.

She stayed like that for quite some time, long enough to fall asleep for a brief moment before jolting awake and remembering what she’d gotten up for in the first place. Slowly rising once more she’d push off the table and make her way the final meter to the sink. Pressing her body into the body of the counter she’d lean over the sink and turn the tap on. The water came fast, so clear and with a smell that practically begged for her to drink. ‘Has water always had a smell?’ she thought before simply plunging her hands beneath the spicket and taking in greedy scoops of it. Quickly, almost frantically she drank for what felt like a lifetime. So much that when she was done she didn’t even try to move back to the couch, instead just slouching down the cabinet and coming to sit on the floor with a smug look of fulfillment on her face as her stomach threatened to empty itself of the water she’d just gorged herself on.

She fell asleep again, this time for a while. When she awoke she was being roused by Atlas with a worried look. Her arm stung badly and she stunk of something foul, of rot and decay and festering wounds.

“Jesus Rabbit why the fuck did you get up, you tore your stitches!” Atlas exclaimed as he began to get to work on removing the dressing from her shoulder and cleaning the disgusting wound beneath, Suzu gave him a weak smile as he worked. Eros moved in from the other side and offered her a sponge, pressing it temptingly against her lips and letting the cool water it contained run down her face before she brought her good hand up to reach for it, to take in the water she now realized she still desperately wanted.

Eros’s hand came up quickly to stop hers with ease as he shook his head at her, “Can’t have you drinking too much right now, need to start slow. Just suck on the sponge for now.” he said as he continued to hold it too far from her mouth for her to bite part of it away and steal what she wanted.

“Fuck you Eros.” she managed weakly before complying with his command. He smiled and let her drink what little she could garner from the sponge as Atlas worked for what seemed like only a few minutes.

When he finished he tapped at her neck and smiled, “All patched, lets get you back to the couch now shall we?” Atlas had said as Eros and him lifted her from her spot on the floor. She managed to get her head far enough back to take a look at where she’d been sitting and managed a small repulsed gag as she took in the sight of what she’d left behind.

“Sh--” she began as they set her down on the couch, the sheets new and almost spotless save for the large yellow-red blotch that showed she’d already slept on it once before it was washed. She winced as they set her down sitting up and reached a hand out to grab Eros as he began to back off, “Shower.” she managed out with a smile that begged for him to accept her plea.

Eros looked at Atlas who simply shrugged and nodded at the man, “Just don’t get the shoulder wet yet.” he said to Eros before backing away to take a seat at the table and seeming to sift through the papers that littered the tabletop.

“Right. Not a shower Rabbit. But you can scrub yourself down. Wash some of the filth off.” Eros said quietly as he reached a hand under her shoulder and hefted her to her feet. She let out a small groan of pain before he led her off to the shower room and sat her down against the tile flooring with another groan. Watching from where she was left Suzu would try and begin removing her clothes with little in the way of progress without both arms. She managed to get her arm halfway out of the sleeve and her head through the hole but other than that she didn’t get any farther. She began to breathe faster as the stench of her shirt began to overwhelm her. Wriggling against the wall she’d begin to thrash as she tried to get the shirt off, to get the filth away from her face.

She was close to panicking when Eros pulled the shirt off her face and cupped her cheeks in his hands, “Calm now Rabbit. Calm.” he said quietly in a surprisingly soothing tone. The kind of tone Suzu would never have imagined the scarred Zero Team member even possessed. He worked quietly as he gently pulled the shirt off of her ruined shoulder and down her arm before setting his hands to work on the rest of her clothing.

Stripped and still stinking of her own rancid filth Eros offered Suzu a rag before he would begin to fill buckets with hot water from the tub and offer them to her as well.

“You've been out for six days you know.” he said as he sat and stared blankly out the door of the shower room at something beyond. “Six whole days. I'll be honest I thought you were done for but Atlas held out hope. Said something good needed to come of everything we did for you. That he wouldn't let you die for everyone else's sake.” he seemed distant as he spoke, the scar along his face casting a nasty shadow that left Suzu unable to tell if he was upset or just bored.

“He did it for them... Kept you alive that is. Not for your sake but for theirs.”

Suzu slowly dipped the rag into the bucket and squeezed it, red and yellow blooming into the water before she pulled it out and got back to cleaning her side.

“Alright. I get it.” she relinquished as she'd not stop her slow and incessant cleaning.

Eros turned to look at her, studied her face and the ghastly wound at her shoulder before nodding, “Right then. Good.” he rose to his feet knelt at her side taking a second rag from a hanger and placing a hand just below her shoulder blade, “Scoot forward now I'll clean you back and whatever else you can't reach.”

Suzu nodded slowly and with a little help managed to get far enough from the wall that Eros could help her. “Thanks.” she said as she too continued her own cleaning. The buckets were a murky reddish-brown now, the afterthoughts of greens and yellows floating at the edges as they became too dirt to continue using.

“My mark?”she paused and turned her head so she could barely see Eros, “How is my mark?”


“Alive and faring far better than you. His wounds were easy. Cauterized before we even saw him. He better have been well worth it.” Eros said as his rag pressed over a particularly tender rib causing Suzu to take a sharp breath in and double over in pain.

“Sorry Rabbit…” Eros said as he moved a bit back from her to see that she was alright.

“Okay…” Suzu labored a breath and shook her head, “It's okay you didn't mean to.” she assured him before sitting up slowly and starting the tedious cleaning once more.

After quite some time of cleaning and small talk Eros would leave to fetch a clean towel and clothing for Suzu. Cleaned and changed she'd be led back to the couch and laid down.

She thanked Eros for his help with a smile and turned her attention to Atlas who still say at the table across the room.

“When will I be able to leave?” she asked him as Eros returned with a cup of water that was only half filled. She gave him a nod and sipped at it as Atlas seemed to think where he sat.

“At most? A month or two… At minimum? Maybe next week or the week after.” he nodded sagely at her, “You have somewhere pressing to be? Last I knew you didn't exactly have a deadline. And if you did I'm sure as hell you've either missed it or are about to.” Atlas added as he sat forward slightly. “You go when I say you can, no sooner, no later. Easy as that.” he lifted his cup of tea and sipped at it before turning his attention away from Suzu and back to his paper. Suzu nodded that she understood and took one final sip from her own cup before laying back on the couch and letting sleep overtake her.
 

Nim

Active Identity Unknown
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I'm fine with both
Favorite Genres
Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Modern, Fandoms
”Operation Dreadful Kiss, Part 4”
Ino Namikaze | Sworn Sword | Yatari, the Rice Country Capital

  
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

  
It has been several days since she arrived in Yatari, and learned from a local merchant about the different inns in the area, including the whereabouts of the one she needed to go to, even if he didn’t know he told her any such thing.

Sitting on the bed in the room, Ino looked over a few papers with sketches of what appeared to be a few streets, with marks on specific locations and a few extra notes attached. Executing her orders won’t be very simple, considering she needed to do it in a manner that will not give away the actions were of someone from Akino, and most direct approaches were canceled along with that. She was allowed to take out any further witnesses and body guards, but that did not mean it was the best option to rely on that. More bodies could mean that more attention would be brought to the whole thing.

A knock on the door turned her attention away from the sketches. Ino appeared to have expecting the knock, and quickly covered all the papers with the blanket before walking to the door and opening it. The innkeeper stood there, with a small plate in his hands. Handing it to Ino, she nodded her thanks to him before handing him several Yen. After giving them a brief glance, the innkeeper walked away and Ino closed the door with her foot. ‘Daitsu’s Thirst’ wasn’t a very luxurious inn so to say, but it still offered a small service of bringing the breakfast to the room, for an additional cost. It was likely one of the few things that made it be a more proper cover for the innkeeper, considering he was the one who gave her some information regarding her target, being a Zero Team contact.

Walking back to the bed, she put the plate on the bedside and uncovered the papers from beneath the blanket. After making sure they were properly arranged, Ino grabbed the plate and begun eating the light breakfast of bread, eggs and cut veggies while trying to think of more ways to go about her mission.

Her target, who was a small man called Kataoka of Torazo’s street, normally stayed in the same inn, being the luxurious ‘Golden Bowl’. The place had its own couple of guards, one staying at the entrance and one who patrols the area surrounding the inn, but always seems to come back to the inn, likely to report if anything is up. Most windows in the building seemed to be either small, or small balconies that were very visible to everyone around, even in night time, as each was equipped with a small lantern. There were a total of two entry ways into the building, being the main one and the staff one, which appeared to be locked from the inside, and most employees needed to knock to gain entry. Keeping high valued customers seemed to be no joke for the owners of the inn, considering the measures taken. It also meant that taking out Kataoka in the inn was not a very likely option.

Next chance she had was when Kataoka went out for business meals. Those were done out in the open, from what she had seen, and Kataoka himself had three bodyguards with him at all times. Two that stuck right besides him, and one who would find a spot that allowed him to survey the surrounding area. From their mannerism, she speculated they were more than likely ex-military, although not shinobi forces. Staying out in the open and having bodyguards meant that every time he ate, there more many civilians around as witnesses and Kataoka was always protected. A simple and easy way to ensure anyone who tried to take him out would most likely be caught.

After that, there were two more opportunities for potentially taking him out. One was in a luxurious bath house, which offered more than mere baths for those who decided to go out of the comfort of their inn rooms. Although the place was still a public bath, it was rather clear that people went there as another place to discuss business. The second one was when he went to a building and vanished into it for approximately an hour a day. This was the most consistent behavior the man had presented among everything he did, from what Ino could tell from her surveying the area and him for several days. However, the innkeeper did not know what the man had to look for in there, and it seemed practically no one else had entered the building. Whatever it was Kataoka was doing there, he was doing it in what seemed like absolute isolation, and his bodyguards ensured no one followed him inside.

Finishing her small breakfast plate, Ino put it on the bedside table, keeping her eyes on her sketches and notes. The man had a rather steady schedule, and kept being in places that were either secure or public, both of which posed some kind of risk. What looked like the best opportunity to strike him was the hour in that building, and yet, without any kind of knowledge of what goes on in there or why he would be doing this, it seemed like one of the more riskier chances too. The bath house and business meals were both very public, and the inn he stayed in was very secure. And all of this without even bringing into factor the regular Rice country military patrols that roamed the streets of Yatari, both day and night.

Sitting on a small part of the bed, Ino decided that she will take another day of looking into matters before making a choice on what kind of plan she will execute. There were already multiple options present in her mind, but she decided it would be best if she felt certain that she knew of every possible option before acting.

  
With knowledge of the local area from what she surveyed, and having memorized the frequency of the patrols passing by, it was easy to blend in. Knowing the normal times her target arrived at the building was also helped, as it meant she knew how long she had to scout the outside of the building, and potentially the inside too, before she would need to retreat without grabbing the attention of Kataoka or the body guards that accompanied him.

It was around noon, which meant she had around 3 more hours before Kataoka would arrive at the place. The front door was firmly secure, with at least 2 lock holes being visible. Considering how isolated it was, there was the possibility the insides held even more locks or alarms. Maybe this was where Kataoka kept all his finances secure. Maybe he had dirt on others, and this is where he made sure no one could reach it, allowing him to easily blackmail anyone into siding into those he favored. The possibilities to what was hidden within there were numerous, but Ino didn’t truly care on what was inside. All she needed to see, is if it was possible to use the place as an option or not.

There were no alleys that were directly besides the building, although Ino did notice the building behind the mystery building had windows that appeared to have direct sight of the mystery building’s roof. If there was roof access, then it could certainly serve as a way in. Another potential was creating a way into with a contained explosion from one of the buildings that stood on either side of the mystery building, but Ino immediately dismissed the thought as grabbing too much attention due to the shaking and noise the explosion would make, regardless of how contained it will be. She would’ve considered the windows, if those had not appeared to be well secured from the inside, and all of them were intact. Any signs of breaking in could cause Kataoka to run with his tail between his legs to the local law enforcements. Or maybe hire even more guards to constantly be on the premise. Both bad options.

Without thinking any further of it, Ino went to the parallel street and looked at the building that stood behind Kataoka’s mystery building. It was well evident that people lived there, and there was also a small, cheap silverware shop at the bottom. Certainly not a place that she could just sneak through. While the building did have an alley to its right, it was very narrow, and also relatively short, having no real shadows in it and remaining well exposed. Perhaps in night time it would be much better concealed, but in the middle of the day, it stood out as much as a stall on top of a sunny hill.

Waiting for half an hour, Ino found her chance to enter the building once a man walked outside. As soon as the man started stepping away, Ino took a couple of quick steps, stopped the door from closing and vanished inside. The interior of the stairway was very bland and unappealing, but maybe the point was to cause people to not want to spend much time in the stairway. Counting 4 floors, she looked around the corridor. There was a single window, but it was facing the street side and not the opposite side. Climbing up another floor, the window now was facing the direction she needed. There was the risk of people maybe seeing her take a leap from their window apartments to the roof across, so she decided to first look over the roof from the window and see if it was even worth it.

Silently opening the window and sitting on its lower ledge, Ino carefully glanced over the roof across. It wasn’t hard to spot that there was a roof access on the building across, and no visible locks on the outside. It only meant if it was locked from the inside, then opening it would be very noisy. Doing some noisy where people could potentially watch was not something she wanted to do. And yet, she kept looking at the latch. As of now, it was still her only way into that building that did not involve walking through the front door.

Moving her legs to hang outside the window, Ino gave herself a small push from the window, and landed on the roof across with a roll. It wasn’t the most comfortable way to reach it, but it was quick and mostly silent. Keeping to her knees, she quietly moved to the latch and grabbed the handle. It was hard to pull, but it didn’t feel like it was locked after all. It was certainly old and without any care given to it, so Ino did need to struggle a bit as she opened it, most likely due to a lot of rust that gathered over time. After working on opening it for what seemed like at least 15 minutes, to ensure she did so quietly, the handle finally turned and the latch slowly opened. As she slowly pulled it up, she couldn’t see any kind of traps or locks. Perhaps Kataoka never expected anyone to come into the building this way.

Quietly making her way down the roof access ladder, Ino looked around. The place appeared to be completely deserted. There appeared to be nothing in the top-most floor besides dust and a lot of abandoned rooms. From the furniture inside each room, it appeared as though the building used to be an Orphanage, or potentially a shelter for the needy. All the rooms were similar in what they had inside, being a simple bed, a small cabinet, a desk and a chair. None of the rooms had anything special or unique about them. Going down a floor, it was the same as the floor above it. The first floor was just the same.

The ground floor, however, had something different. Two of the rooms were not only shut, but they also had steel cage doors in front of the regular doors. An extra measure of security. Before approaching either one of those, Ino went into one of the small rooms with the windows to the street. She couldn’t spot Kataoka or his men, which suggested she still had a bit more time. And yet, instead of risking it too much, Ino decided to move to underneath the dusty bed and wait.

Close to an hour passed until some loud noises started to be heard across the ground floor of locks being unlocked and someone walking in with heavy steps. They weren’t military type of heavy steps, but rather just of heavy weight. Must be Kataoka who entered the place, considering his weight was more towards the heavy and he was the only one who normally entered the building. Remaining silent and paying close attention, Ino’s eyes slightly narrowed upon catching what he was saying.

”You know why I’m doing this. You don’t need to ask again. Just give me what I need and you’ll get your daily meal in return.”

Silence fell from Kataoka’s side, but Ino could just barely pick up someone responding with a very weak voice.Then there was the sound of a paper stack being toppled over.

”I told you to not ask again!”

Kataoka’s sudden shout was accompanied with what sounded like a powerful smack against flesh.

”Now was that so hard? Everyday, we go through this again. Just do the math, tell me what to offer each person I ask you about, and I leave you alone for another day. It is as simple as that.”


Another response came from the weak, unclear voice, and then it was followed by a much more civil conversation between Kataoka and the other voice for close to an hour. Just the amount of time Kataoka always spent in the building.

Once it was clear that Kataoka had left and locked the building behind him, Ino waited for another minute before taking silent steps outside of the room she was previously hiding in and made her way to the steel cage doors. Both were securely locked, yet the wooden doors behind them were not. There was no way for her to go through the bars, as they gave a too narrow of a space, but it was still possible for her to open the door. Doing so carefully, she was somewhat surprised, but after following the previous conversation, not entirely.

The room had stacks upon stacks of papers, folders with information about many influential people. There was a hole in a wall, connecting two rooms to each other in a rather crude manner, as if it was done with a sledgehammer and never given any further care. A mattress laid at the corner of the room, and a very thin woman, shackled to the back wall, was laying on it. The woman appeared to be a mess, very thin and weak. Her clothes were mere rags, and she appeared to be shivering. Without a doubt, this was a case of a person who was kidnapped.

Taking a hair pin from her hair, Ino begun twisting it in order to use it as a lock pick for the steel cage door. As she begun to lock pick the door, the details she learned from overhearing Kataoka’s side of the conversation were passing through her mind. This woman was apparently essential to Kataoka, as she helped him figure out what the best deals were for each person he decided to target, which would explain how he managed to both manage his businesses and still know exactly what was best to offer for each person with such high rates of success to his name. It was also evident that the woman wanted something that Kataoka refused to give to her.

Due to not being able to hear the woman’s side, and Kataoka not using her name even once, Ino had practically zero knowledge on the woman, except for the fact that it seemed as though no one was missing her, if Kataoka was managing to keep a hold over her without any issues. There was the possibility that was he bribing the local authorities, but if that was the case, anything she would do to Kataoka would be investigated heavily.

A couple of minutes of carefully manipulating the lock pick, Ino stopped and decided to take out the makeshift lock pick. Even if she did get inside the room, who said the woman isn’t actually awake and aware, and would tell Kataoka everything the next time he arrived? Not to mention, she came here to figure out if the place was a potential spot to take Kataoka out at. And from everything she had seen, it was not, as not only there are only two ways into the building and out of it, which would already limit the options of escape, but this could very much help any future investigations, especially since it seemed like this place was specifically held for helping his business pursuits. Reaching through the bars with her hand, Ino grabbed the doorknob and gently closed the door, hoping the woman was in fact asleep and nothing more. As she started making her way up the building, towards the roof access hatch, an idea came into her mind, one which could potentially help disguise everything.

Without any trouble making her way back to the street, Ino made her way towards the inn whereshe was staying at. With any luck, she will be able to begin executing her new plan immediately, and ensure no one ever knows the true reason as to why it happened.
 

Lesli

Secret Shadow
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Both.
Favorite Genres
Anything with a good plot or twists to it.
Genre You DON'T Like
Stories that can't keep my attention focused or seem to bland in my opinion.
Songs at camp
- Empire of Akino -
In the Hon Clan lands, Operation Obsidian Blood.


A collab between FrostedCamel and Lesli.

  

Summary:
Dagrún sits at the campfire and sings a song. Soon enough, Meilin joins her and then Yumi follows suit. The small company of three then engages in a relative short collab of singing and warming up at the fire.



  

Once her tent was set, Dagrún didn’t move to the campfire right away. Staying at her tent, she listened to the howling in the distance. Whereas she understood the danger very well, she also relished the fact that predatory animals likes wolves were nearby. Or something far more dangerous being around. Amusing herself with the thought if the deity, the Great Wolf, could be out there watching them made her shake off any idea of fear or being concerned about the howling. The campfire was bright and slightly tad bigger than what it had been before. But at the moment, everybody was either busy with their tent or walking the assigned rounds.
After a minute listening to the howling, Dagrún would head over to the campfire. Having a bit of the bland rations, she didn’t mind the taste that much. It reminded her of the past. When she had ventured out with some of her kin into the cold. The salted fish that she warmed at the fire was going to be far better than the porridge or dried biscuits, she was certain of that.

Seeing that nobody had yet moved to the campfire, Dagrún entertained her mind at first with some thoughts. Now and then she shot a quick glance when she saw movement, wondering a bit about each person she saw. Slowly and yet softly, words in her own native tongue, would start to pass the lips of the young woman as she stared at the fish she held towards the fire, at the end of a stick.
”My mother told me,
Someday I would buy,
Galley with good oars,
Sail to distant shores,
Stand up on the prow,
Noble barque I steer,
Steady course for the haven,
Hew many foe-men, hew many foe-men.“


”I know that song. My father used to sing it, a lot.”
Meilin said as she would approach the campfire. Sitting down, she shot a smile at Dagrún.
”I hope you don't mind me hearing what you sang. But I couldn't help but be a tad interested in what you were singing. Perhaps we can sing something together?”
Hoping that her suggestion wasn't too audacious, Meilin wished that she had taken a bottle of drink with her. Remembering how Kensuke had reacted to it when she had done it the previous mission, brought a faint smile to Meilin's lips.

Detecting the voice of Meilin, Dagrún shot a glimpse over her shoulder. Shaking her head lightly, to indicate that she didn't mind the other of having heard her, she waited for Meilin to sit down. ”My brothers used to sing it nearly every night. Much to my own ma's dismay,” a smirk crossed Dagrún's features. ”But I won't mind singing something with you, captain. Perhaps it will lay some rest to the beasts in the distance.”
Leaning slightly back, the blonde Hon cast a look at the flames. ”Any songs you prefer, captain?”

"I hope I don't intrude you two.”
Yumi appeared from the dark, holding some rations that she wanted to enjoy near the campfire. Flashing a smile, she recognised the leader of Team 4. But the blonde young woman with the unusual markings was somebody she didn't recognise.
"Yumi Hasewaga," she said as a slight bend towards the blonde as an introduction.
Taken a seat, she had already caught word that the two wanted to sing.
”I hope you two won't mind if I am listening.”

”Heh,” a chuckle escaped Meilin as she could imagine a mother's dismay of hearing that song over and over. Content that Dagrún seemed open to singing with her, Meilin couldn't come up with a song. Before she could consider one, Yumi wanted to join them at the campfire.
”I don't mind, Hasewaga-san.” Gesturing to the other that she could take a seat, Meilin was most curious about the Scholae. There wasn't much that she had yet divulged from the young woman. But this wasn't the moment to focus on all her attention on Hasewaga.
”What about the Wolf’s Morning? I think that signing that in Taika wouldn't be too bad.” Meilin suggested to Dagrún.

Dagrún nodded in return to Yumi.
”Dagrún of the Tryvvge Lineage,” she replied in return to the Hasewaga. She wanted to say something more but remembered that it had irked Aoi, according to Meilin. For a moment, Dagrún didn't like the idea that this newfound companion at the fire was going to be with them.
Dismissing the thought, Dagrún weighed Meilin's suggestion.
”Sure. Ready when you are.”

Taking a moment to recall the lyrics and then translating it to Taika, Meilin licked her lips. Nodding to Dagrún, she inhaled slowly and then started to sing the song.

”The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone
When the wolf woke and walked alone.
He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stooped and looked in the sea,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadows of his head.”

Glad that her approach wasn't met with any hint of objection, Yumi grew slightly curious about this Dagrún. The odd and mysterious marks that were visible were clearly of another design than Taika. The name of the blonde already gave away that she was part of the Chonobi culture but Yumi had never witnessed any Hon, Sarutobi nor Cho with such markings.
Taking a bite, she listened to the two singing a slow and what seemed to be an emotional song. Grateful that they sang in Taika, for Yumi's understanding of Chonobi wasn't that grand. Just enough to save her in a small talk but nothing as to likely understand such a song.
”That was beautiful. Short but sweet. Do either of you sing a lot?”

Once the song was over, Dagrún scoffed lightly as she nodded towards Meilin. A subtle sing that she did approve of her captain's singing skill.
Yumi then reacted and Dagrún nodded. ”Aye, I often sang with my brothers and kin. Usually in the halls when the sky would become dark. Nothing better to spend the evening than with kin, song and good food. Perhaps some nice stories to get the blood running. But to each their taste, eh?”

A smirk crossed Meilin's lips as she raised her left hand to rub her neck. Silently, she admitted to herself that the song went better than expected. When Dagrún nodded to her, Meilin returned the nod. Yumi then complimented them on their singing.
”I used to sing with my mother when doing chores.” A pause of a second followed. ”It is where I learned most of those songs. At night, when I was young, she would tell me the stories behind some of those songs. What about you, Hasewaga-san?”

The answer of Dagrún didn't do much for Yumi. She didn't know what it was like so she could try to imagine it but was certain she was far from how it felt to experience that. But judging from how Dagrún phrased it, it certainly seemed quite a pleasant occurrence.
”Oh, I know some songs. But I am not a great singer. I would much prefer hearing you two sing another song. Perhaps this time in your own tongue? I know some of your language but perhaps you could translate it afterwards for me?”

”Come now, miss,” Dagrún spoke up, ”Let us hear you singing at least once. I doubt that you will find any better judge than me and the captain. If you do us that favour, I am certain that we will be happy to oblige to your request.”

”I agree with Dagrún. If you wouldn't mind to give it a try. I am certain that you can do much better than you think. Besides,” Meilin briefly spread her arms, a smile flowing back on her features, ”I doubt that anybody will object anyways. The wolves might keep on howling but we don't have to consider that a bad thing.”

Wanting to turn down the two's request, Yumi couldn't think of any good reason why she couldn't give it a try. Remembering a short song, she would make sure that her mouth was first clear. Hearing howling in the distance, she did try to imagine it as if the beasts were curious about her singing as well. The small and brief thought conjured the hint of a smile on Yumi's lips before she sang.

”Toward Sado, toward Sado, even the tree leaves and grasses are blown by the wind. Is Sado such a nice place to live?
To come, to come you tell me, but I cannot go there easily. Sado is far away from here, over the sea waves.
From Sado, from Sado, I can reach Izumozaki on the mainland by rowing a boat. But why and why cannot I reach your tender heart?”


Listening to Yumi, Dagrún seemed surprised for a moment. The surprise quickly shifted into back to Dagrún's usual smirk. Nodding, she would speak up. ”That was nice, very nice. Tad short but I suppose that will do.” Casting a sideways glance at Meilin, Dagrún continued. ”So, captain, shall we oblige her request then? How about Herr Mannelig?”

The song that Yumi sang was quite enchanting. Sad but pretty. It made Meilin wonder where Yumi had learned or heard that song for it was one that Meilin didn't know. Dagrún broke her train of thought, causing to Meilin to blink once rapidly before nodding.
”Of course. Hmm, I think I do remember the lyrics. Ready?” Once Dagrún marked that she was ready, Meilin would start to sing with the Hon.

The song was slow and calm, much like the one before that they sang. With singing in Chonobi, it seemed that both Dagrún as Meilin were feeling a bit more at comfort. Also, a song that was much longer than the one they sang before.
Once done, Meilin decided to explain the song to Yumi.
”It is about a woman proposing to a man. She promises great gifts to the man but is ultimately rejected for she isn't right for him.”

”Thanks.” Yumi replied in turn, both for the song as for Meilin explaining it. She could make some words and sentences out of the song but not nearly enough to get a full understanding.
”Let us not stop here. I suppose it is now my turn.”
 

Aliceee

Fierce Rebel
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept
Genders You Prefer Playing
Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fine doing both/Aggressive
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, modern and magical.
Genre You DON'T Like
Scifi, yaoi, some horror, furry.
Obsidian Blood
Empire of Akino.
Hon Clan lands.


Operation:
Obsidian Blood


Performed by:
Team 4,
Team 8
Jounin Astrid Hon.
Scholae Yumi Hasegawa



  

The moment that the morning attained, it was characterised by a grim atmosphere. The last trek to the destination was done in silence. Save it, of course, from the commands and guidance of the team leaders and Astrid. The only distinction that would be noticed was that the groups moved in much closer proximity with each other. Yet, no banter or pleasant exchanges would upset the serious atmosphere.

Large flocks of snow would descend from the grey overcast, slowly becoming more of a hazard. Almost as if an unknown force was trying to coerce the group to give up on their objective. To turn and go away.
More howling resonated and seemed to move closer. Now and then, a member of the group would perhaps see large shadows moving at the edge of their visibility. But with each hour passing, the snow seemed to thicken and limit the group's visibility.
With this change, the group would stick closer and a few torches would be lit as spread over the group. This new change seemed to deprive the curiosity and the appearances of the shadows at the edges.

Time seemed to cease existing as the snow isolated the group. However, Astrid seemed to be more than aware where they had to move to. The young woman was the only one who shifted from the front to the rear as well spending some time riding next to the carriage. She would provide insight that the shadows could be the product of the shadows of animals that would become much more bolder with the fewer resources due to the winter. The torches should help to keep any desperate predator away unless they would really be driven mad by starvation. Questions regarding the rumours of wild direwolves or any other threats would just be met with a smirk or a vague answer as the Grey Guard associate didn't seem keen on giving too much information nor in prolonged conversations.

Eventually, the group would hold a long break. With the instruction from Astrid to prepare for what was to come. The biting cold, blinding snow and threatening howling nearby would surely keep everybody on the edge. Astrid would briefly speak only with the team leaders, regarding the plan on how they would advance.
Once done, the group would move up again. The trek was this time short. The silhouette of a large hill would become noticeable. Once more, a pause would follow. It became clear that this was the last pause that they could enjoy.
Once the break was over, Astrid would split the group into three parts. A group would need to stick behind with the horses and possibly as reinforcements in case required.
This group would exist out of Orun Hyuzu, Satia Cho and Dea Cho.

A group would move under the leadership of Aiko Cho-Hon. Kazumo Sarutobi and Neji Uchiha would continue to move underneath her command. They would use the nearby entrance to seek and take down the Zealots from that direction.
Astrid would take the third group to another entrance. This group had to endure to venture on foot through the snow and cold. Reaching another entrance into the dark underground.


  
Aiko's Group
| Lesli Lesli | Oblivion666 Oblivion666 | timv999 timv999 |

The smaller group would descend into the shadows riddled entrance. The cold inside would be less tense than outside. But instead of the troublesome snow, a tension started to surround the jounin and her students. Both Kazumo as Neji would be given a torch. Navigating through the hall, the three would come across a split. Aiko would produce a shadow clone. Then without much needed to be said, the small group would split up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kazumo Sarutobi and Aiko Cho-Hon

The two would continue to move through the halls. It seemed that the walls would become smaller, making it impossible for the two to walk next to each other. But as they entered a new room, they would find it much more spacious. Together with it being dim lighted, with various candles lit at the edges of the room. The room itself was empty for a man to stand at the opposite side of the room. His arms crossed out front of his chest and a smirk crossed over his lips. Raising his chin, he observed the two newcomers into the room.

"Ah yes. I remember you two."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Neji Uchiha and Aiko Cho-Hon

Neji and Aiko would proceed through a long-winded hall. The tension would slightly rise as the darkness seemed to become intenser, despite the torch held by Neji to drive it away. The walls at their side seemed to give away, the only indication that they were moving into a larger room.
The ink-black darkness seemed an endless abyss as a voice would softly penetrate the silence.

"You shouldn't have come here."


  

Torches would be distributed among the group before they descended into the dark entrance of the hill. The pace was slow and it was clear that at this point, danger could be lurking from every point. On the instruction of Astrid, the group was to not yet mould their chakra.
Moving further into the unknown halls, the sensation became clear that they were descending deeper underground. A few staircases had to be taken until they came across a point where they were forced with a split.
On order of Astrid, Yumi would take Aoi Miyazato to see what they could find in the split. If they weren't able to find anything, they were required to move back and catch up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Aoi Miyzazato and Yumi Hasewaga

The two operatives would descend down a staircase. The rough outline of the stairs made it clear that the underground was quite old. But any other sign of human presence was either shrouded by the shadows or lacking. Reaching the end of the stairs, Aoi and Yumi would find themselves in a spacious hall.
At the end were a few candles, giving a dim light as well revealing a person on their knees.

"In a land of sinners, I will not fail."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dagrún Hon and Madoc Yamanaka

Astrid would continue to lead the remaining group. Passing through a large room, they would hear some faints sounds behind them and in front of them. In front of them, the passage to the next room was starting to close slowly. As if the earth had decided that they weren't worthy to continue.
But behind them, they could hear somebody whistling, a rather cheerful tone.
Instructing Dagrún and Madoc to guard the room and possibly await Yumi as Aoi, Astrid would spur herself and Meilin to move to the next room before the passage would be closed.

While Astrid and Meilin would vanish into the next room, the earth closing behind them, Madoc and Dagrún would be greeted by a person moving into the room. It was a small woman with a hairstyle that could be described as messy.
A large smile started to dawn on her lips as she would raise the torch in her right hand.

"Hehe, according to plan!"'

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Astrid Hon and Meilin Cho

As the passage would close behind them, Meilin and Astrid would find them in a large circular room with a high ceiling. In the middle of the room was some furniture, a long table with various chairs to the sides. At the head of the table, a man sat with a wide smile portrayed on his lips.

"Visitors, as expected. Though, you aren't who I expected to come to me. But I am sure you will make do. Please, do join me."
 

~\The Talentless/~

No tricks up my sleeves
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Chat Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Speed of Light, Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
My Usual Online Time
24/7 I am a lifeless dweeb
Writing Levels
Give-No-Fucks, Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I'm fine with doing both, being aggressive or being passive.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Scifi, Modern Fantasy, Horror, Romance, Libertine, Furry, Action/Adventure.
Genre You DON'T Like
I do not like school type Roleplays, unless it has to do with supernature stuff, or a school for the gifted. Otherwise, I can't do it, I already go to school, don't need to go to a fictional one.
”Harsh Words!”
Konohagakure, Capital of the Empire of Akino.
Training Field.
Yiko Uchiha and Hiron Hon.
A collab between Gerontis and Talentless.

Summary:

Yiko is guided away from the others - much like the other genin. His instructions are to face a shadow clone of Hiron. Despite the odds, Yiko decides to try to follow the orders. Learning a particular lesson from it.



  

Hiron had remained silent as he watched from his spot. No change in expression or composure as Kyoi and Karma would be given a chance to try to teach something useful to the genin. The whole affair wasn’t, however, just aimed at the genin but also at those two. Making mental notes, Hiron waited till they were done. Waiting a moment longer, he spoke up. ”Well, those were the signs that you can encounter. You each will get a scroll or so, later about the others. I expect you all to learn and memorise them. We will round today’s training with a small exercise.” Pausing, Hiron threw a glance at each of the genin. ”Each of you will be ‘given’ a shadow clone. Up to you on how to try to defeat it. If you don’t manage to defeat it within ten minutes or so, you have lost. Next training, you will be burdened with a heavier exercise.”

After finishing, Hiron conjured three said shadow clones. Each shadow clone of his would take a genin to another part of the field. The real Hiron crossed his arms out front of his chest and frowned at Karma and Kyoi. ”You two. How do you think your little training went with the genin?”

Yiko raised an eyebrow at the idea of having to fight a Hiron clone, he wanted some combat practice, but this might be more than he could handle. Even if it was a shadow clone, even if the chakra was splitted, it might be too much. Fight smart, not hard The younging told himself as he followed one of the clones that grabbed his attention.

Yiko had a slight insight of what he was capable of in his last mission with Hiron, but then again either person couldn’t use chakra, so again Yiko had no idea what he was capable of, but that also was the same case for Hiron. Yiko gave the clone a slight bow, Follow the plan, adapt when necessary And like that Yiko snapped up, kept eye contact as he activated his sharingan, his eyes became a deep red with a single tomoe. He then quickly reached into his back pouch to throw two shurikens in Hirons direction, running at him as he did.

The shadow clone didn’t betray any emotion or thought about either Yiko or the spar, simply moving to the spot where they would hold the spar. The training field was quite spacious, so Hiron doubted that sparring with the genin on it would hamper or provide any danger to each other. Certainly knowing their abilities allowed him to anticipate what the worst scenario would be. Arriving at the spot, the jounin’s shadow clone sized up the Uchiha genin. As Yiko activated his sharingan, Hiron scoffed - audible enough for the genin to catch on. Keeping his gaze locked on the genin with his sharingan, Hiron spoke up.
”How about that, huh? Your eyes are a shallow copy of his,” his eyebrows slightly perking up as Yiko decided to make his move. Pulling out two shuriken of his own, he would counter the incoming projectiles with throwing his own.

Yiko paid no attention to the jounin’s comments He’s just trying to get under your skin, keep that in mind He made a mental note. It was rather impressive to see that his aim was precise enough to reflect his own attack, this is what a jounin is capable of, precision. “ flashy moves you got there” the young genin said before he quickened his pace and went full speed, pulled out a kunai, and hopped up into the air using his right leg, shifting his upper body weight to the ride side to get his body horizontal to the ground. He went to deliver a heavy kick to the mid center of his the jounins torso using his left leg, while also putting his right leg behind his knees, planning to twist his upper body to completely knock Hiron onto his back, then roll over to deliver the kunai to his chest.

Hearing what the rebuke, Hiron simply frowned. He watched how Yiko moved up in the air, trying to go for a heavy kick. Simply stepping to the right while raising his hands for a more default combat stance. The man would wait for the extended leg to grab it by the ankle and abruptly use his weight and strength to bring the boy down to the ground.

Yiko’s eyes widened as he sidestepped and sent the boy into the ground, he rolled a few times putting the kunai into the ground to stop his momentum and got to his feet. “ ow…” the boy let out a sigh and looked up at Hiron, meeting his gaze. I could’ve been relaxing today, but of course I have to take a beating from Hiron himself… what did I even do to deserve this . With a deep inhale and exhale, the boy placed the kunai in his mouth and began to place both hands together forming the rat sign. rat, tiger, ox, horse . Suddenly electricity began to crackle leaping out from the palms of his hands before slowly calming down to nothing more but slight pops here and there. Pulling his hands apart, getting into a more defensive stance with both hands in front of him, his mouth released the blade from his mouth and landed into his right hand. Then to, did the blade also slightly pop with energy.

Letting the boy roll, the shadow clone rolled with his shoulders. As the boy moved his hands together, the shadow clone’s eyes narrowed. When it was apparent what the genin conjured, the shadow clone pulled out a kunai as he would follow it with spreading his arms. Welcoming the genin to try his luck out. Saying something softly in Chonobi, a chuckle followed as the shadow clone didn’t seem to consider the genin a threat.

it’s almost like this spar is just so he can smack us around a little Yiko then gave a very audible sigh, and narrowed his eyes. Getting a little bit of a running head start, yiko went for punch with his left hand aiming for the Jounins head. He knew clearly from the start he wouldn’t be able to land it, but just incase he did, it would pack quite a shocking punch.

As the genin attempted to land a punch, Hiron simply stepped aside and would use the boys momentum against him. By simply giving him a shove with his free hand.
”Doesn’t seem like you really are able to fight, boy. You think with just going straight for the target will help in this case? Doesn’t seem you can see much with those eyes.” The jounin scoffed as he would flip the kunai in a reverse grip. He would allow one more chance before he would reveal to the genin what the purpose was behind this little spar.

Yiko stumbles a few feet back before getting his footing, he glanced backwards, looking directly into the jounins eyes. He gritted his teeth, the comment did hit a sensitive spot. He turned back and narrowed his eyes on the ground in front of him “ I worked hard to activate these eyes, these eyes are the only thing that made my father proud of me..” the young genin spoke softly as he reached for his pouch with his free hand, sighing a little bit trying to not let the comment get to him, before winding up for a round house kick. “ unfortunately… I have to figure out how to utilize them properly, but how will I do that if I don’t use them, huh? ” he finished, giving the jounin a slight smirk. He then hopped up, going in for a round house kick to Hirons right side, while at the same time he threw a Kunai directly at him, and just a short delay after that threw another kunai with his other hand, hopefully making hirons moves limited so that either the Kick, or the kunai would land.

”The wisdom of genin, huh,” Hiron mumbled. When Yiko smirked, Hiron frowned. Performing a pivot, he would avoid the thrown kunai. The jounin’s right hand shot upwards, grabbing the genin by his ankle before it would land a blow. Spotting the following up movements, Hiron would simply shove Yiko, making the previous aim less accurate and causing the second kunai to miss him.
”Here is some wisdom from me, kid. You can try to fight me in any direct sense but you’re a dozen years too early to fight me like that.” The shadow clone calmly stated. ”This isn’t going somewhere. So instead, of trying and exhausting yourself, rookie. I suggest you sit down and tuck your toys away. I suppose it is time to explain why you failed and what you need to improve.”

Yiko fell right onto his arse and groaned, he looked up at the clone with an unamused expression. The young boy leaned back using his arms to hold him up while he sat, both of his kunai laid on the ground. The popping of energy in his hands ceased and his dojutsu faded away. “ Most likely because you’re a million times more experienced than I ” he then looked up at the sky longingly before back to the jounin. “ I rely on taijutsu too much, and that didn’t work out too well in this scenario

”Experience helps but doesn’t determine everything, kid.” Hiron replied. He was more than already prepared for those answers. It was quite common for the weak, he thought to himself, to blame the strong for that they were better.
”I got more experience. I know more techniques, fighting styles and have been in more fights than you can imagine. The thing is,” Hiron would raise his right thumb and place it against his chest. ”I still bleed and die like any ordinary man. And no amount of experience, skill or knowledge will change the fact I am mortal.”

Letting those words sink in, the shadow clone would pocket his hands as his gaze locked on Yiko. ”The problem was more than taijutsu. If you knew that you couldn’t win, then why fight? This wasn’t to see if you could beat me. A chance that a genin can beat a jounin is small. But it is still there. A chuunin once nearly beat a kage in a direct spar. And the usual gap between a chuunin and a kage is much larger than a genin and jounin, I fear. The thing is that I wanted to see how sensible you were. In a real fight, chance would be pretty big that you would be dead. The matter on how or such doesn’t matter. You would have been killed. What good will that do? Save your honor? Dead men have no use for honor.”

Yiko’s eyes widened, to believe a Chuunin accomplishes that. He then looked down at the ground, and let out a sigh before reaching for his kunai and getting to his feet. He wiped off the dust from his pants, then looked up to the Jounin. “ so what would you have suggested I do, run away? My father would have killed me himself if I had done that ” yiko stated.

”And that is the price of honour, right? Preserving your family’s honour and public standing. Dying in battle is forgivable. But deserting your comrades is cowardice. Which must be punished harshly.” Hiron said, shaking his lightly afterwards. ”There is a good reason why things are like that. But you are no samurai. You are no soldier. Not yet, in my opinion. You’re a mere genin. A recruit. A mere piece of nameless meat.”

Pausing, Hiron would let those words sink in. ”So, who would have cared if you had saved yourself to fight another day? You are a shinobi. Trash. A stain. What good does honour do to a nameless speck of dust, hm?”

The young genin nodded slowly. The words were harsh, but it had made him realize that like hiron had said, they were a speck of dust. So who would’ve cared if he had retreated from battle. “ You are right, I’m more useful alive than dead…” he then looked over to the other genin. “ So was that it, was this whole exercise to see if we were sensible enough to know when you’re beaten? Or was it to also gauge our combat effectiveness? Yiko has asked turning back to the clone with a raised brow.

”That was it. Combat effectiveness? So early? Nobody can make a fair statement regarding that. You could have done better in the first mission. But you could have also done way worse. It is too early for anybody to say anything fair about that.” The jounin answered in return. He had his own mind and opinion but that was subjective. That and he didn’t think it would do much good to tell the genin his opinion either.

”But yeah, that is the lesson of today. You are currently more worth alive than dead. Start to worry about honour and your name when people actually remember your name and praise it. Right now? You’re a genin. You’re going to make mistakes. Piss me off and will need help. It was the same for Shikaroku. It was the same for me and the same for those who came before me.”

Somehow those words brought some comfort to the uchiha, it seemed like those were the first words he has ever heard from him that wasn’t too harsh since he had fallen under command of hiron. It made him smile just a little bit “ understood, sir. Thank you for the lesson.” yiko gave him a slight bow out of respect.

”Good. We are done for today. One of those two lasses of before,” casually, the shadow clone lifted a thumb to point at the direction they came from, ”will pick up some training with you. I expect you will keep today’s lesson in mind. Cause if not, the consequences will be dire. Dismissed.”
That said, the clone would poof away without waiting for Yiko’s response.























””
 

Oblivion666

That One Grumpy Pants
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”One hot fight!”
Empire of Akino.
Hon Clan lands.

Operation:
Obsidian Blood

A collab between Lesli and Oblivion

Summary:
Moving into the underground den where the Zealots have bunkered down, Aiko and Kazumo are met with an opponent of the past. The man that had attempted to ambush them on the first mission of Kazumo on Team 8. The showdown that was destined is about to begin.


  

As him and Aiko entered the dim light room, the first thing he saw was the man on the other side of the room. Blonde hair and scars on his face, a sign that this man has seen some brutal battles in his time. Yet the words he said were what confused him, he remembered them? He doesn’t recall meeting this man before, yet one thing he knew was that he was an enemy to be dealt with. Yet how to get him to showcase what he could do. Looking at Aiko for a second on the chance she knew who they were dealing with/

Entering the room, the fact that it was lit - even dimly - wasn’t to Aiko liking. The woman’s green eyes locked on the other person that seemed to be waiting for them. Recognising the man from before, Aiko noticed that Kazumo shot a look at her.
”First mission, with Daichi Akimichi. We are dealing with a missing-nin.” She calmly explained. The words of Aiko caused the man to smile, almost as if he enjoyed the fact that he was recognised.
Scanning the room quickly, the ceiling was high but nothing in the fact she would be concerned he could just move out of their attacks. Problem was that they were inside an underground room with somebody that had the explosive clay kekkei genkei.

”The pleasure is mine,” the man would even add a small bow, what was clearly a gesture to mock them than anything else. ”I suppose that we now are going to finish what we attempted before. Only this time, you two aren’t accompanied by a fatass. And,” the man’s hands opened as a certain white goo started to drip towards the ground. It started out slow but the volume was clearly increasing. The white material started to move forward, rising and falling. Slowly the vague figures started to become deformed human shapes, numbering up to four. A white outline from their back connected to the palm of the man.
”Time to end it.”

The shapes rushed forward, half stumbling and sprinting in an odd fashion. Before they could get close, a strong gust would drive them back for a few seconds.
”Get ready.”

The first mission with the Akimichi? Looking at the man who was now giving a small bow, he couldn't quite believe his luck in running into people. This was the Bird Bomber though? Guess it didn't really matter in the end he supposed, after all the man himself said it. As this white liquid dripped to the ground increasing in volume, eventually forming four deformed human figures. This would be the last time they would meet. As the shapes took off running towards them he could already assume they would be quite the explosion that shouldn’t happen underground. Aiko was quick to drive them back with a strong gust.

The room was dimly lit, but he could still see the man. So pulling his bow off his back and notching an arrow, he aimed at the man and let the arrow fly towards him. He doubted the man would die this fast, yet he did want to test some things.

The man didn’t move but one of the shapes reached out, the white paste extending. The arrow pierced through the surface but would get firmly stuck in it before it could fully move through.
”Not going to be that easy, kid.”

The deformed shapes started to move towards them again. This time their formation fanning out to approach the jounin and chuunin from the front and angling from the right as the left.
Realising the danger, Aiko would mould chakra in her right hand. As the two in front started to close the distance faster than the others, the jounin would lash out.
A crescent of air sliced through the deformed shapes. The sound of something being ripped resonated before the crescent of chakra formed air sliced the two forms into half.
”You, left side.” Aiko instructed as she turned to their right, repeating the process of taking out the impending danger.

The arrow would be stopped when one of the shapes stretched out to catch the arrow, with it piercing it but not going all the way through, getting stuck in the mass. The man told him it wouldn’t be that easy which he knew but tests were important. So when the form stretched out with Aiko taking out the two in the middle then focusing on the one on the right, she tasked him with the left one. He knew already he had no technique to deal with it, anything he had required him to get close. He wasn’t yet advanced in Samurai Sabre to dish out arcs of chakra, however..
Pulling out another arrow he focused his chakra and applied the samurai sabre to the arrowhead, notching it he aimed at the man controlling the deformed figures and fired it once again.

Taking out her target, Aiko glanced over her shoulder. The arrow that Kazumo shot soared towards its mark. It pierced through the substance, tearing through the material and severing it from the deformed human shape of clay. While the arrow kept flying, the attached clay shape would come to a halt. Only to fall flat on the ground as the man was forced to move aside to avoid being hit by Kazumo’s arrow.

”Almost.”

The man said, as a sly smile crept over his lips. Snapping his right fingers, there was a soft hissing sound. Causing Aiko’s eyes to widen. Turning to Kazumo, she would grab him by the shoulder and pull him close. Only for flashes of white to herald the explosions.

Small pieces of debris and dust were whipped up. Concealing the space where the deformed shapes, Kazumo and Aiko were at. Slowly the screen of smoke and dirt would descend back to the ground.

”Oh my. Look at that.”

With the screen slowly falling, Aiko tried to fight back against the pain. It caused her shoulders to tremble as she would keep herself standing between their opponent and Kazumo. Drops of blood fell on the ground as small cuts were evident over her right arm. More details at her flak jacket and a large cut across the right cheek revealed how narrow her timing had been to shield herself and her pupil from the explosions.
”Too close, heh.” She said, trying to sound amused. But it was clear that the brunt of the attack had still slammed through her attempt.

This man was taunting him once again, gritting his teeth he looked at the man only to hear a soft hissing sound. When it reminded him that he didn’t kill the man, and thus his bomb was still active. Staring at it he could only see his error, yet before it could go off Aiko at the last second shielded him. The explosion would go off with the white flash leading the blast as dust and debris was whipped up around them. Some of the debris slipped past and left some small cuts on his arm. Minor compared to what Aiko just shielded him from, yet he couldn't worry now. This was an opportunity.

Before the dust cloud could settle he weaved hand seals and summoned a clone, then reached into his packed and placed an explosive tag on the clone before sending it underground. When it did settle, he saw truly the damage on Aiko and the feeling of fear rose, before being taken over by anger. This happened cause he still was too weak, still to fresh to this yet he knew he would overcome this. It’s what he did, its was time he started helping Aiko instead of the other way around.

Looking at the man he wouldn’t glare showing this man his hatred would only let him know he was getting under his nerves. ”I will kill you.” Kazumo said as he stepped forward.
”I refuse to cower.” he said before pulling out two shuriken imbuing them with the samurai sabre and tossing at the man.

The claim of Kazumo was met by a genuine laugh. The man placed his hands at his stomach as his shoulders briefly trembled, while the laugh briefly filled the room after Kazumo’s declaration. ”Come now. You? Very well.”
Digging his hands at the pouches at his side, some faint sounds could be detected. Like a pair of mouths were at work.

Pulling his hands out of his pouches, the man would clench them into fists. The thrown shuriken would be evaded as the man moved to the left, a quick skid. Opening his hands, the man would throw more than a dozen of white objects towards them. Due to the distance, the objects landed around halfway on the ground. But as they landed, their forms were clear. Small white spiders made of clay started to move towards the chuunin and jounin.

Wanting to act, Aiko moved her hands together. Only for a sharp pain to course through her right hand and arm. It caused her to gasp. Trying to still weave a series of handseals ended in failure, due to the pain and trembling of her right hand.

The man laughed obviously not taking his words seriously at all, it was as he expected. He was that cowering young man the first time he meet him after all, only this time Aiko wouldn’t be able to save him the entire time. As the man’s hands went into his pouches, Kazumo’s hand notched an arrow. When the man threw a dozen white objects, they landed halfway but then started to move towards them. Wrapping an explosive tag around the shaft, he fired the arrow in the middle of the group before lighting up in a flash and then explosion. He doubted it took out all of them, but hopefully it took out majority.

Not wanting to give this man any resting period, another arrow would be shot towards him. If he had any edge it was that his range could go the entire distance, only his had more effect if they got close. Briefly glancing at Aiko he could see she was in pain from guarding him, he had to wonder how he was going to protect her while trying to off this man.

The explosion from Kazumo’s arrow had taken care of some of the spiders. But they simply moved to a looser formation, still approaching the two. Their march wasn’t slowed down by the fact that the man was once more laughing as he moved once more to avoid being shot down by Kazumo.

”So much for killing. Shame you won’t be able to make use of this lesson. But you’re a dozen years too soon to be here, kid. Goodnight.” Right after the man’s words, the spiders seemed to ready themselves. Then they started to move faster, hopping towards Aiko and Kazumo at a rapid pace.
A strong gust would blow the first attempt of the spiders backwards. Holding back the whimpering of pain, Aiko would let her right hand hang. Focusing on moulding her left hand, she shot a look at Kazumo. ”I will create an opening. Focus,” the instruction would be spoken in Chonobi. But much clarification for what she had in mind wasn’t given due to the spiders once more attempting to close in the distance. Only to be pushed back by another gust.

Was it too much to ask this prick to shut up and fight? Trying to think about what to do, would be decided for him as Aiko sent a gust and pushed the spiders back. This caused him to look at her startled, she was still protecting him despite the pain she was in. She told him she would create an opening for him, so the least he could do was help her create that opening. As she blew the spiders back a second time he would pull out several senbon and pierce the spiders still left with them.

Looking at the man Kazumo would shake his head. ”You are right. I am a dozen years to early. I’ll still try though.” was all he said before his clone of earlier burst out of the ground and grab for the man’s legs.

The sound of dirt being moved aside caused the man to look down. His eyes widened as his lips parted. When Kazumo’s clone’s grabbed the man’s leg, the attitude of before seemed to vanish. The spiders even seemed to halt as the situation seemed to be different now.

”Now, think careful kid.” The man said, his voice slightly shaken.
”Are you really going to harm a potential informant? Heh, no. You wouldn’t right?”

”Of course I am.” Kazumo said as he held up a sign, to which the area around the clone started to flash white from the explosive tag placed on it from earlier was activating. Then all Kazumo saw was the explosion that took place afterwards. Notching another arrow, he looked at Aiko. ”Hope you can still make that opening.” Kazumo said in Chonobi as he highly doubted that the man would die that easily.

”You damn--”

The man’s sentence was cut off as the explosion went off. But no blood was spurting out of a gaping wound. As the man made contact with the ground, the hollow thud was the first sign that it was a clay clone. Deforming soon enough into a white paste, the white spiders started to move once more towards their targets.

”Mhm. Just stay focused.” She grumbled in return, blasting off another gust. Forcing the clay spiders back, she was on the alert for any signs that could give away their opponent. Then she looked up. As a growing mass of white clay started to form. Her eyes widened but before she could say anything, it would start to descend towards her and Kazumo. Moulding her chakra, Aiko would aim her palm towards Kazumo. Blasting her pupil away as the white clay fell on where the chuunin and jounin stood.

As the explosion took what he hoped was the man out, the body would turn into that white paste which meant it was a clone the entire time. He thought that would be too easy to be the actual end of this, the spiders even resumed march only to get blasted away again. Looking at Aiko and how she looked up he would look to only see the mass of white clay getting further away, as Aiko blasted him with gust sending him flying backwards landing on his back.

Grimacing a bit he saw the white blob land where he last saw Aiko, his eyes widened in slight fear but breathed in and out. Notching an arrow he aimed at the ceiling where the man was located now and fired it off towards him. He also made sure to keep his distance from those spiders as well.

The man smirked as he saw that only Kazumo escaped the attack from the ceiling. The white paste seemed to cover the Cho. Vaguely one could make out the movements as the woman tried to move the white clay from herself.
Dodging the arrow by letting himself, jumping from the ceiling, the man would land on the ground. Now with the mass of white clay between him and Kazumo, the man raised his right hand. Wiggling his right indexfinger, he shook his head subtly.
”Not so fast. I could blow her up within a heartbeat. We wouldn’t want that, right? I suggest you drop your weapons kid.”

With all this attention focused on him he knew he wasn’t going to hit any arrow anytime soon. Up close maybe yet with how much space they have had between them, it just wouldn’t work in his favor unless he lured him into a trap. The man put himself in between him and the mass of clay which was on his sensei, warning him he could blow her up within a heartbeat. He would advise Kazumo to drop his weapons to which Kazumo stared at the man as he notched an arrow.

”So you can then blow her and me up? I refuse, just like I wouldn’t hesitate to kill you, I know you wouldn’t hesitate to kill me. Unless you want to free her now to show me how sincere you are being.” Kazumo responded as he aimed the arrow at the man, ready to fire if he tried anything.

”Tsk tsk, don’t be too brave now.” The man warned. A part of the white clay started to bulge and a small explosion followed. A mere warning of what the man could do if he desired so. ”Besides, freeing her would not get me anywhere. I ask it one more time. Drop your weapons.”

Before Kazumo could reply to the demand, the man’s eyes started to widen. Something unseen seemed to be at work as his hands clutched to his throat. The vague form of Aiko in the white clay stopped moving. Only to followed by a loud explosion that came from underneath the clay and dispersing it, blasting the white and small spiders of clay away as well.

”All yours.”

Brave? If only he knew how scared he was right now, that his sensei was actually in trouble and he had no means to free her. This wasn’t Bravado but simply trust that she would make that opening she said she would create. About to lower his weapon until the man clutched his throat as an explosion resonated dispersing the clay along with the spiders. The sound of Aiko’s voice was all he needed to hear for him to fire the arrow right at the man’s head, silently he prayed that this opening Aiko made would be enough to finish this shit off.

The arrow moved through the whipped up screen of dust and debris. A soft sound seemed to resonate through it all. When the dust was settled, the man seemed to be leaning slightly forward. The arrow stuck into his left eye, the shaft deep. Slowly the man would fall forward on the ground, remaining motionless on the ground.

Out of nowhere, Aiko seemed to drop on the ground. Dusting herself off, the jounin would first check their foe. The man’s right hand twitched slightly but soon enough the woman could deduce that he was dead. Letting out a soft sigh, Aiko placed her hands on her hips as she threw a look at Kazumo. ”Don’t think I not noticed you lowering that bow slightly. I almost lost grip on my wire to just scold you properly.”

As the dust settled it would reveal the man with Kazumo’s arrow impaled through his left eye. Falling to the ground Kazumo still watched him slightly wanting to shoot him again just in case, yet he could tell that it was over. Dropping from above Aiko would proceed to lecture him about what he was about to do, which caused him to look at the ground before looking back at her.

”And you always do this to me. You always trick me into thinking you died, every time! You did it once with this man, and twice now I thought that maybe you weren’t messing around and were legitly stuck. I was...” Kazumo tried to voice something but stopped and just took a deep breath in and exhaled.
”I’m still of no assistance, I got you hurt, I had no real way of countering anything he could do. In the end I was once again relying on you to save my ass. I was simply scared.”

Looking sideways at the chuunin, Aiko remained silent. She had actually meant it more as a jest but hearing the frustrated response, the woman didn’t smile or continue the jest. Turning more towards the young man, she considered what she should say. Weighing the words carefully, she gestured casually to the man on the ground as she began speaking.

”I indeed tricked you both. If I hadn’t, this fight would have taken much longer. I or you would have actually gotten wounded if I hadn’t pulled that nasty surprise. It is what work best against every experienced foes. To try to make them feel confident. To feed that pride and assure them somehow that they have everything under control.” Aiko decided against explaining that she had hoped for the first explosion, so that she could swiftly move away after protecting herself and Kazumo. Leaving a shadow clone with a tattered image. ”I am sorry for constantly making you worry. But I figured that you would place enough trust in me to not worry too much. That and you were quite of use. Without you, this fight would have been much messier. The guy probably banked on that I would protect you. Didn’t consider you much of a threat. And you see how that went for him.”

Pausing once more, Aiko would walk towards the young man. Once closing in the distance, she would place a hand on his head. Gently ruffling his hair.
”I am proud of you, Kazumo.”

Deep down inside he knew this was all part of her plan, that whatever happened she probably calculated or wasn’t worried about. Despite that though it was never easy to see his teacher being killed or injured, even if it was a fake. ”I tried convincing myself of that… I really did. Yet I just… I don’t even know anymore.” Kazumo said as he perked slightly at her words, he wanted to voice that she basically held him still for him to shoot him yet decided against that.

Watching her walk closer he was slightly confused until she began ruffling his hair, which caused him to snicker as a flustered feeling as she praised him. ”I still have much to learn though. You will still teach me right?”

Scoffing lightly as she heard him stating his doubts, she couldn’t blame him. For a moment, she wondered if she should try to inspire him a bit more. But she opted against it. That time would come, eventually, she told herself. When Kazumo asked if she would still teach him, the woman pressed her fists against her hips. A frown growing on her brow.
”Of course, I will. I can’t have you go around and mess here and there up. I got a reputation to hold up to.” Dropping the mocking tone, Aiko winked as a smile flowed on her lips. ”I suppose I do got some tricks to teach you. But let us collect ourselves. And see if others need a helping hand.” Patting Kazumo’s shoulder, the jounin gestured him to follow her out of the room.

”Good, I still have much to learn. If this was any example that is.” Kazumo said before she suggested they go see if the others needed a helping hand. Which did make him wonder though, if this was the real Aiko then that meant Neji was more at risk if the clone vanished. Nodding he would look at the deceased man on the ground before trailing behind Aiko out of the room. He hated to admit it but he was a bit worried about Neji’s well being.
 

FrostedCaramel

God's in His Heaven, All's Right With the World.
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Mainly passive, can be aggressive if the situation requires such.
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”A Question of Faith”
Empire of Akino.
Hon Clan lands.
Operation:Obsidian Blood

A collab between FrostedCaramel and Lesli.

Summary:
Descending into the darkness, Aoi Miyazato and Yumi Hasegawa are confronted by an unknown figure. Despite the figure’s plea for the two to surrender, a fierce battle follows. One that will not be forgotten soon by either young women.


  

Never in her life had she been in a cave. They were dreary places, devoid of light and the warmth it provided, cold maws of damp and impenetrable darkness. Where she’d expected a reprieve from the Winter above she’d found only a similarly chilled hell beneath and though snow was not as common a sight in the narrow passageways and winding tunnels, icicles stretched their thin bodies from the roof of the cave as if reaching for the ground beneath it and ice clung to the walls in thin sheets that cracked and shattered as Aoi edged her hand forward along the wall under the torch light. She didn’t much like the idea of the cave, of its winding pathways and seeming endlessness ahead of her. She was on edge enough with the fact of the mission that was underway, but the cave was a different sort of fear from that which the mission was bringing her. It was more personal, a deeper sense of wrong as she engulfed herself in darkness, as she entered It’s domain.

She pushed ridiculous thoughts of the Darkness from her mind as best she could and refocused herself onto the back of Yumi as she led the way farther into the gloom. They’d been split from the group at a fork in the tunnels path, given the directive to search where it led to and return if they found nothing and had now been walking down this tunnel for quite some time. She wondered if it would simply end in nothing, lead to an unfinished portion of the winding pathway they were walking and cause them to have to return to their group, to the safety of the light the others torches offered and the protection of her team. She shot a glance over her shoulder as a cold breeze sent a shiver up her spine, spinning almost completely she’d hold the torch out in front of herself back in the direction they’d come from and studied the shadows of the tunnel as they danced and jumped in the torches light. ‘Nothing behind me. A trick of my senses.’ she assured herself before turning back to follow Yumi and taking a few quicker paces to make up the lost ground from her small turnaround.

As Yumi began to seem to lower in front of her Aoi would realize she was walking down another set of stairs. Old, crumbling things that sent small loose pebbles skittering away and down the stairway in front of them with a sound akin to rain. She wondered how old this place must have been, what it had been used for, and who had used it. Was it of Chonobi origin, or a relic from the time that Taika had once held this land? Was it a fortress or a place of worship? A manmade complex of winding pathways and rooms or a natural cave system simply improved upon by whoever had used it? What had happened to those that had originally used it, and why had they ceased to maintain and utilize it after putting what appeared to be even now quite a large amount of effort into its use? As they reached the bottom of the stairs the walls, lit by the orange glow of their torches, abruptly curled away as they exited the pathway into a large room, something like a hall if she had to place its function close to anything she’d ever seen.

Though it wasn’t the hall itself that interested her, but instead what was at the end of it. Flanked on either side by candles of varying sizes a man knelt in what appeared to be prayer. Though the light made it hard to see who he was, or if he was doing something other than praying, it was obvious he wasn’t one of theirs. They were the only ones that had entered the cave system, and Yumi and her the only two that had went down this pathway. She slowly brought a hand down to her pouch and pulled a kunai from it, being sure to watch the figure as she did, and then he spoke.

”In a land of sinners, I will not fail.”

Aoi felt her grip tighten as the stranger spoke from his spot kneeling, and though she didn’t like the implications of what he’d said, she was pretty sure she didn’t have the time to begin an argument on the finer points of religion and individual freedoms to follow what one may please. “I’ll follow your lead.” she spoke softly to Yumi as she took a position of her left side.

The whole duration that Yumi and Aoi had been separated from the others, had been filled with silence. The shadows and eerie silence didn’t haunt Yumi. She wished that they did. That they piqued her fear and that they made her more alert. But it was much of the opposite. She was used to operate in secrecy, away from the curious light. Knowing that the enemy could be just lurking behind a rock or turn made the walk less soothing.
Once they were done climbing the staircase down, Yumi’s eyes narrowed. Once they entered the hall, her gaze was locked on the figure in front of them. The scene didn’t invoke any fear but it was the sentence that raised Yumi’s neckhair. She was okay with dealing with stubborn and arrogant foes. But lunatics? Those were unpredictable and anything but easy to deal with.

Hearing what Aoi said, Yumi wanted to reply with something. She knew that Aoi was a chuunin. She had to have some experience herself. Else she wouldn’t be assigned to a team like that of miss Cho’s. But to what extension Aoi’s skill ran was a mystery to Yumi. Staring at the person that still didn’t make any movement to acknowledge their presence, Yumi replied back in a soft voice.
”I will try to immobilize the foe.” Yumi started, flexing her fingers. Chakra started to mould as the familiar sensation was on the rise. ”Hopefu--”

Before Yumi could finish her sentence, the person wouldn’t rise up. But the sound of something twisting resonated through the room. The dim light didn’t reveal much of what was going on but the right sleeve of the unknown figure moved. It was almost as it something underneath the sleeve bulged to then slim down. A second afterwards, the person would slowly get up and turn around a second afterwards.

”Please do surrender.”

The request seemed genuine. As if the person in front of them wasn’t an enemy but somebody genuinely pleading with them to lay down their weapons. No visible weapon or armour was visible on the unknown man. The clothing he wore wasn’t too outlandish either. He could have easily been somebody that inhabited a place like Keishi.
”If you are followers of Him, then repent. Or else...”

To say that the sudden silence brought on by the movement of the stranger at the end of the room was unsettling would have been an understatement. It chilled Aoi to the bone like the cold surrounded them never could have when the vastly higher ranked kunoichi she was paired with became silent at the sight. She felt out of place, as if Yumi could simply tell something that required her full attention, as if the man at the end of the hall was truly something that could even worry her. She was distressingly out of her element and she knew it, a Chuunin among a Scholae and whatever the man a the end of the hall was, a man that could seemingly bring a high ranked Shinobi to silence by simply standing. She was a sheep among wolves.

Bringing her hands together she’d press them into a bird handsign and stop suddenly as the stranger began to speak again. A plea for surrender, to lay down their weapons and cease the fight that was no doubt a hair’s breadth away, and for a moment she seriously considered it. No enemy could be so against fighting their own enemy that they’d actually ask for a surrender like that, perhaps if she’d just abide by his plea and place her weapons down they’d be able to come to some sort of an agreement, but the strange, almost treasonous thought was quickly expelled as he spoke for a second time.

‘Followers of Him?’ she repeated the words in her head for a moment before quickly writing off the possibility he meant her God. No one would pray to Him in a place so deep underground, so completely consumed by the darkness at hand. She held her tongue as she’d place her fingers back together and mold her chakra quickly before bringing her hands back up in front of her with the hiss of her iron dust exiting the bag at her waist filling the silence that loomed over the three of them.

The request of the unknown figure was odd. For a moment, Yumi wasn’t entirely sure if they should press on. Taking out any zealot was the objective and Yumi had no problem with killing. Not replying to the man, Yumi would crouch as she tried to race through a series of handsigns.
Completing the sequence of handsigns, Yumi placed her hands on the ground. In a rapid pace, crystal thorns half the size of an adult sprouted out of the ground. It started to race towards the unknown figure.

His expression shifted. Displeasure and sorrow seemed to mix over the man’s pale complexion. Only for dark lines to appear as bulging veins through his ashen coloured skin. As the danger of the sharp crystal thorns continued to sprout towards him, the man would skid to the right. The visible skin on his right arm seemed to grow dark-grey.

With Yumi furiously forming hand signs Aoi would stand her ground. She didn't want to mess with whatever the Scholae was about to do, and surely she didn't want to rush headlong at a man with abilities she had absolutely no hint at. For all she knew he had a nullifying field she'd never heard of that would cause her iron to demagnetize, and if he had something like that then she'd be useless fast at close range.

She jumped a little where she stood, her nerves so wound tight that the sudden growth of the thorns and the sound they brought with them nearly made her think that it was the stranger creating the large spikes, but they grew in the wrong direction, towards the man. As she watched she noticed him moving in the background, seeming to move out of the way before something off began to happen to him. Where his veins bulging or was it the light? A trick of her imagination and her nerves playing a cruel joke on her? She decided it wasn't as the man's arm began to grow a ghastly grey like rancid meat.

She felt her stomach churn as she realized something very unnatural was happening to the stranger and formed a single ram seal as she watched. Small balls of her iron formed around her, no larger than pebbles and gently spun in place as she seemed to weigh the advantages of tossing away some of her dust so early in the fight. Half of the pebbles at disintegrated again and flowed back to her leaving the remaining eight to hang in the air. Light from the candles glinted off them as they spun in their small patches of space, a dull suggestion of something floating around the Chuunin. Then they took off with a slight whizzing noise, aimed for both sides of stranger instead of the man himself and timed with the hope of catching him if he dodged the thorns to his left or right.

Evading the impending threat of being impaled by the sharp crystal thorns, the unknown figure seemed to notice the second threat. As he was about to move once more, his boots pressed on the ground, his eyes widened. Despite the clear intentions, the man was too late to react properly to the following up attack. Small specks of crimson started to colour the man’s shirt, hinting to where Aoi’s iron pebbles had him him full force.
The man leaned forward, coughing, his stability affected by the new wound.

Not waiting for their enemy to recover, Yumi was happy that Aoi had been able to figure out that the first attack was meant to drive the man to the side. Narrowing her eyes, the young woman steered the chakra that she poured into the ground. The crystal would suddenly turn with the last sprout, a long thorn racing towards the man. Impaling him from the side. A sickening sound of crystal shredding through cloth, flesh and blood was faintly audible. Slowly Yumi would clench one of the hands she held at the ground into a fist. There seemed something to be going on as a soft groan escaped their tormented enemy. But whatever it seemed to be the case, he seemed to cave in. Only held up by the crystal thorn in his side.

”That should do it.” Yumi mumbled as she would get up. Glancing at Aoi, she nodded. ”Good move. If anything, I was a tad worried...” Yumi’s voice slowly trailed off as some sound at the other side of the room caught her attention. Turning towards the unknown man, she saw how he was able to straighten his back and move his arms.
Then with what seemed to slightly troubling, the man pushed himself off the thorn. Crunching sounds of crystal being broken off or falling to the ground resonated loudly, masking the merely irritated groans of the unknown figure.

”You have chosen violence. A pity.”
The man said as if he was speaking to two naughty children, caught in the act of stealing some sweets. As he said the words, more pieces of crystal seemed to be pushed out of his body. Eventually, with the wound healing itself. Turning dark grey.
Rolling with his shoulders, the man started to walk in a calm pace towards Yumi and Aoi.

Aoi felt a wave of satisfaction and relief come over her as the man seemed to stumble, she had landed a few solid hits and it was quickly followed up by the thorns that Yumi had been growing from the ground. What were they exactly? Rock? She didn't have time to continue thinking on it as the Scholae seemed to compliment her. A fierce red blush filled her face as she fought back the growing feeling of pride at the woman's words and she silently thanked God that the room was so poorly lit. “It was nothing I'm sure, you dealt the final blow after all.” She insisted as she turned slightly from Yumi.

Then strange sounds pulled her attention to the corpse on the other side of the room. The deadman was freeing himself from the thorn that had impaled him, that had run him and a number of what Aoi was sure were more than vital organs completely through. There was no way he could have survived such a catastrophic hit,his insides had to be mush, pulped and sloshing around in their new liquid forms, but instead the man pushed himself off in front of her eyes, small and even some disturbingly large pieces of crystal falling from within him to patter to the ground.

She noticed his skin was now turning grey where his wound had been as it healed over. She stood transfixed as that happened, as the man in front of her healed his wound like it was a mere scratch. She felt herself falter, stepped back and gasped aloud as it happened. Her will faded, her cherry-red face turned an ashen white and she noticed the ebbings of fear gnawing at her mind. They were too deep in the mountain, too far from the surface. They were in His domain, and they'd found one of His servants. A true Demon stood before them.

Appearing still calm and collected, Yumi felt cold beads of sweat rolling down her back. She had seen some strange events playing out front of her. Or hearing about matters that seemed to be out of this world. Recalling a certain similar event, of somebody shrugging such a mortal wound off, was at the fights in the capital of the Rice country. Of a jinchuriki going berserk.
But would that make sense? Were they facing one of those blasted foes here? Noticing that Aoi took a step back, Yumi decided to try something.
”It is okay. Fear is the best weapon of the unknown.” Flashing a smile towards the girl, Yumi would return her gaze back on their enemy. ”I will try to confine him. If you can, try to land another blow. Okay?”

The man clearly could hear them. Yet, it was apparent that he had no interest in closing the distance faster. A hissing sound could be detected from him. At his right arm, the skin seemed to expand and form. Extending in a rapid pace, the small mass seemed to resemble what could be described as the edge of an weapon. Rolling with his shoulder, the man frowned.
”I will give you two a moment. To pray to the almighty before I will smite you down, in His name.”

Her mind raced as the Demon slowly stepped toward them, the words of Yumi a mere suggestion of noise and activity at her side before she focused in on it, forced herself to tear her gaze away from the inhuman creature they had encountered. She shook her head in disbelief as Yumi spoke “We can't fight a Demon.” she stated as if she was off in a different land and focused on something else entirely as her mind was consumed by the fear of the thing as it approached.

There was simply no way they could win. Maybe with another hundred or more men they'd stand a chance but just two of them? It was an impossible task, suicide if nothing else. She stepped back again, the fear of the Demon as it seemed to grant a moment of reprieve threatening to take her absolutely. It had the power to do that. To give its prey time, because it knew it didn't really need to waste its effort on something so trivial, this was merely an inconvenience for it.

Wanting to ignore the man’s comment, Aoi’s reply caught Yumi’s attention. She couldn’t blame Aoi for it. If anything, this was indeed the stuff of nightmares. That man should have been dead with her last attack. Noticing the odd transformation occuring at the man’s arm, Yumi tried to rationalize the situation. Perhaps it was an indication that he couldn’t do anything at range? There was no way of testing it other than running away. But if they would make a run for it, that could leave problems for the others. This guy could decide to head to move to the direction where Astrid and the others were. No, running wasn’t an option.
”Hey, listen. I don’t know those others as well as you do. But even if the odds are against us, would you be willing to abandon them to an abomination like this?” Glancing sideways at Aoi, Yumi tried to sound as confident as she could. In truth, she was fighting her hardest against her own instincts. Trying to block out the intense drive to get herself out of this sticky situation was demanding nearly all of her willpower.

”I am not that grand with heroic speeches. So I will spare you that. If you want to run, I won’t stop you. But I am sure we can restrain this demon here. To, at least, buy the others some time. You just got to have faith, Aoi.” Yumi finished as she focused her attention back at the demon. The transformation started to occur at his other arm, a makeshift edge extending from his forearm. Trying to regulate her own breathing, Yumi started to mould chakra as she slowly brought her hands together.

The Demons arm seemed to change, becoming misshapen and almost blade like as Aoi's gaze remained transfixed on it. Yumi spoke again, a murmur of noise that grew into words after what seemed to be far too long for what little she said. The others? What good would it make for them to die here? They'd simply lose their chance to earn the others if they stayed with some vague hope of beating the demon. Maybe together they'd stand a chance, Astrid was of what Aoi could only imagine was a startlingly high rank and together with Yumi they'd make a formidable pair. That was their likely best option.

“You want to restrain it? Just a delaying action? Keep it here until it slaughters us and then let it move on to everyone else?” she asked in disbelief that a high ranked Kunoichi would suggest an action like that, to assume a rearguard role and archaically die to achieve some distant goals that were out of reach from the start. “What's to say there aren't more of these demons?” she asked Yumi, “It's pointless.” she finished before the iron dust that floated around her would begin to gather on her hands and forearms, hardening into the gauntlets she was so very used to. The demon wanted her to falter. To give into the despair and fear it sowed just like the books had said. She decided briefly that she wouldn't grant it the satisfaction of winning completely if she could.

“So give it a point.” she asked of Yumi before gazing off at the demon. She couldn't hope to beat it, but maybe she could give Yumi another good opening. She raised her fists and brought one close in to her stomach easy to defend as she closed. Reaching a fist out with the other for the demons face. She had a mirthless smile upon her face, a tinge of regret at not truly living up to this point. She wished there was a skylight above them, or the sky. Light in general from the sun would have been nice to die under.

The questions of Aoi weren’t answered by Yumi. She didn’t want to answer them. Already she was attempting to not give in to move out of fear herself. Wishing that either Zakito, Tsubasa or Kiyomi were here, Yumi knew better than to wish. It wouldn’t get her anywhere. Forming the Boar handseal, Yumi focused briefly on letting her moulded chakra spread over her body.

”It might seem pointless but better to die with some dignity, no?” There was some mocking tone, directed at their situation rather than at either Aoi or the demon. ”If it is of any comfort. I have bested one of those Leeches, on my own. Together with you, I am certain we will previal.” Yumi said. However, she was sure that her words wouldn’t have the desired effect. Anything that came up to mind to say wasn’t as charismatic as what Tsubasa or Kiyomi could produce. Talking in such a manner was never something Yumi had been proficient at. Perhaps…

The man seemed to be done waiting. He spread his arms slowly, almost like he was inviting them to take their next chance. Walking once more towards them, a small frown grew on his brow. ”You two haven’t surrendered or left. I take it that you both desire to meet your end here. A pity.”
Once he finished his sentence, the man shifted his pace. Instead of walking at a calm pace, he began a full sprint. Coursing through the room and closing in the distance fast, he prepared his makeshift blades at his forearms. It seemed that he aimed to strike at Aoi first, almost completely ignoring Yumi in doing so.

Aoi wanted to respond to Yumi, to let her know that her words and roused her spirit or given her the strength she needed but they hadn't, they were abysmally unhelpful in their current situation, but she'd liked to have been able to manage some sort of fake response to reassure the Schooae of her words. Instead she just nodded slightly and tilted her head as the demon spoke again. Then it took off, far too fast, and with such precision she stepped back and hesitated as it closed, it's gaze fixed on her.

She felt dread rising as its blades came up and brought her arms to meet them if she could. Were it only one she'd not have been too worried, but two at once and from a demon no less? She let out a tiny startled sound as she felt herself slipping, her foot rolling over the loose scree from the stairwell as she quickly tumbled over backwards.

The attack would be followed up with another attempt from the demon. The calm and almost regretful attitude seemed to be dropped. Moving forwards, the left hand would be raised and likely aimed by the demon to end it with a crushing blow on Aoi. Before the arm could move down or the man taking another step, a hard force would slam him aside. Causing the demon to tumble and roll over the ground for a few meters before gracefully as swiftly moving to his feet.

Rolling with her shoulders, Yumi wouldn’t opt to throw a look at Aoi. ”Try it again. Don’t worry, I got your back.” The words were meant to instill a bit of hope but Yumi wanted to try to assure herself. All they had was to catch this creature off-guard long enough to restrain and finish it.

She figured it was a slightly fitting way to go. To die in what was essentially already a tomb. Deep below ground and almost engulfed in darkness. There were worse ways, that she was sure of. The demon brought its grotesque blade-arm up to finish her and she barely managed to begin to move in response, practically accepting what was to come before the demon disappeared from her view leaving only empty air above her. Yumi’s words roused her enough and she rose up a bit unsteady as her ankle throbbed in pain.

She took a step and winced before biting at her tongue and moving to put herself on a separate side of the demon from Yumi, her arms raised and her mind more keen to the speed the creature held at its disposal.

The demon turned his attention to Yumi but with Aoi’s movement, his attention was once more going to the blue-haired woman. Without any hesitation, the blasted figure moved forward. Swinging at girl’s right, the demon already readied his other arm for a following up attack.

Eyeing the development, Yumi didn’t stand still. Waiting for Aoi to move and the demon to react, Yumi would also act. Her plan was to flank the demon and attempt to restrain its movements. If only it wasn’t moving so damn fast, she could have done it without endangering Aoi’s limbs and life.

It was back on her, it's grotesque blade swiping in at her right without hesitation. Aoi brought her arm up to block the blow, the iron on it as solid as a sword but the impact jarred her. Knocked her so hard that she grunt with exertion just to keep the blade from simply pushing her arm away and finishing her completely. The strength of the thing was immense, and it's second strike was quick to follow. She weighed her love of her own arm over her life for a moment and nearly moved the iron from it to block the incoming second blade. It all seemed futile though, she was pretty positive she had no way to get out of this.

The remaining iron in the small bag at her hip shot forth and crumpled around the edge of the incoming blade. It wasn't enough to fully blunt the weapon but that wasn't what she was aiming for. Instead she felt warmth running down her face as her nose began to bleed with the exertion of holding the second blade just inches from her side. It wavered and shook as it hung in eerie silence so close to her. She wanted to scream at Yumi for taking her time with whatever she was doing but the simple thought of the action almost proved her end as the blade moved closer to her side, pressing in with a warmth completely unnatural of any blade Aoi knew.

The fact that Aoi had managed to hold herself standing caused the man to appear surprised. Yet, his surprise over the chuunin’s capability didn’t seem to diminish his strength of attempting to cleave the makeshift blades into Aoi. His lips moved, the corners curling down to portray his displeasure. Narrowing his eyes, the man attempted to place more pressure on the chuunin to drive her past her breaking point.

Positioning herself at the demon’s flank, Yumi inhaled. Flexing her fingers of both hands, she would then move into action. Despite it seemed that the man was focused completely to hack through Aoi’s defense, Yumi was cautious for any sudden movement. Opening her left hand, she would attempted to grab the man by his unprotected neck. Stretching her arm, Yumi narrowed her eyes once more.

Suddenly the demon threw a look over his shoulder. The pressure on Aoi’s right shifted as the man would turn. With this movement, he swung the bladed arm towards Yumi. Aiming the blow to contact to the Scholae’s head. A loud cracking sound followed shortly afterwards.
Feeling the warm sensation over her arm, Yumi winced as she had to frosake her attempt to grab the man’s neck to defend herself from the demon’s counter attack. The edge of the blade had been barely penetrated the young woman’s skin, biting only slightly in. Just enough to cause some blood to move out of the wound as Yumi moved her arm to force the opponent’s arm to slightly move upwards.
Using her free hand, Yumi grabbed the arm to hold it firmly as she could. Providing an opening as she pressed her weight against the demon, relieving Aoi from being pressured from the previous attacks.

Grimacing as her doom slowly began to press into her side she'd let out a shrill breath as blood began to first trickle from her flank as the demon pressed its advantage of strength. She desperately clawed at her mind for an idea but found none that would save her, then the pressure on her arms let up and the demon lost its positioning as Yumi once more set it off guard. Aoi quickly dissipated the iron around her arms and sent it to the blade at her side. Concentrated in one place she had little trouble setting the iron to wrap the second blade and pulling it for the ground as she made her way back from the demon.

The iron pulled on the things blade with all of Aoi's strength, something she had to imagine was equal to several fully laden cargo wagons of heavy material, but she wasn't sure if even that would be enough to completely immobilize the demon, a normal man sure, but a demon was more than that. She dropped to her knees and strained as she pushed the iron down with every ounce of focus she had.

The sudden shift and increased in weight pulled the demon down. A deep growl escaped the creature as Yumi released her grip when she noticed the shift. Both the blades slammed into the ground, small cracks following into the ground upon impact. Not waiting and granting the demon a chance to recover and break free, Yumi shifted the crystal around her right arm into one point. The transition of crystal forming a layer of armour into a sharp edge would be done as Yumi raised her arm slightly. Then with all of her strength, she would lower it and pierce the man’s neck.

Driving the blade of crystal into the flesh of the demon, Yumi half expected to see black blood spurting out of the newly created wound. Dark crimson liquid started to flow as Yumi drived the blade as deep as she could into the neck of their foe. Twisting the blade once she couldn’t drive it any further, she detected a gasp escaping the accursed opponent. Releasing her grip on the crystal blade, the Scholae would finish it with a firm kick to drive it even further.
Watching the demon collapse on the ground, Yumi lightly panted. Beads of sweat were now visible on her forehead as well. Keeping watching the demon for a second, Yumi was sure that they had managed the unthinkable. They had killed a demon. A creature of the Abyss. The fact that it existed was odd enough but that they had pulled it off?

Turning her attention to Aoi, Yumi stepped over the corpse of their fallen foe. ”Hey,” a sliver of worry pierced through the attempt of sounding calm, ”Did you get hit?” Asking the question, Yumi already sized up the chuunin. The blood present on the other’s face was quite the worry but as Yumi’s eyes lowered to inspect the chuunin’s body, she froze. Behind her, somebody coughed.
Not wanting to, Yumi still threw a look over her shoulder.

Coughing out some blood, the demon’s eyes stared straight at Aoi and Yumi. His body didn’t move but the demon wasn’t finished off. His eyes were the testimony to that, as its attention shifted briefly between its two opponents. Slowly the demon would push itself upwards as the sharp piece of crystal started to break and being pushed out of its body, the grim wound healing.

Watching as Yumi took full advantage of the opening Aoi didn't have any energy left to be elated with their victory over the demon. Instead she let the iron fall from the blades and gather on the ground as she focused on simply breathing. The ache in her side little more than an afterthought as she just stared at the ghastly way the Scholae had finished the demon, she found it fitting of such a creature.

She began to shake her head at Yumi as the woman neared her, “A scratch nothing mo---” her words caught in her throat as the demon coughed and then, inexplicably, began to rise to its feet. Her eyes went wide and she felt herself being overtaken by fear just as before. They'd won. They'd clearly won, this wasn't fair. “Demons aren't fair.” she managed the grim joke as she rose again and quickly formed a bird hand seal. The iron dust at either side of the demon quickly came together into large, flat blades and she didn't think to wait to let the thing free itself of Yumi’s spike before sending the blades up to cleave through its neck.

Turning around, Yumi stared at the odd scene. She had seen a lot. But nothing had caused her to be this dumbfound as what was going on right now. Wanting to react, Yumi felt an odd sensation running through her right arm. Something was causing her to be frozen. Breathing even seemed to be hard and felt quite forced.

The two flat blades formed by Aoi’s iron would bite into the demon’s flesh. But not into its neck. It was still not able to move freely but its arm twisted to defend its neck from further violation. More grunting escaped the demon as it freed itself slowly from the crystal spike.

”Just give up.” It calmly instructed, its gaze focused on Yumi. And almost as if she didn’t know better, Yumi would find herself kneeling on both knees. Her eyes widened as the pace of her breathing slowed down. She tried everything to confirm that she still had control. But nothing happened. All she could register was that she could still move her eyes. The rest of her body seemed to be more keen to follow the instructions of the demon. Rationalizing the situation as best as her hazy mind could, Yumi thought to what could cause this.

Watching in disbelief as the demon daily blocked the blades Aoi took them back and dissipated them back into dust that swirled around her. She was about to ask what to do when the demon told them to give up, and to her despair, Yumi did as she was told. The Scholae knelt down before the demon as if surrendering. Aoi felt panic overtake her and her eyes went wide, the strongest of them had just given up without a second thought, never would she had expected that she wouldn't be the first to give in and now the unthinkable had come to pass.

Aoi formed a ram seal again and with nearly half of her remaining iron peppered the demon with a hail of tiny iron pebbles. She wasn't sure what her plan even was, but she had to do something to keep herself from kneeling too.

The demon was almost close of getting up. The twisted arm moving back into a more natural position. Being now pelted by the hail of pebbles, the only reaction seemed to be that of irritation. The demon attempted to wave off the first wave of pebbles with his left hand. Only to decide to ignore it. Turning towards Aoi, the demon shook his head. Taking a step towards the chuunin.

”Just surrender. Stop your attempts.” The demon calmly instructed. Taking another step, it spread its arms. Almost as if he invited Aoi for a warm embrace. ”It will be over soon.”

A cold chill ran up Aoi's spine and goosebumps grew along her skin as the demon insisted she surrender. She stepped back a pace before stepping forward once more. She found herself oddly smiling as it opened its arms for her, invited her for an embrace. She thought maybe it would be easiest to d it this way, to comply. She walked forward again and found herself just another step from being far too close to the demon. She could feel it's warmth from where she stood, smell it's blood and odor. The scent of the candles filled her senses from the other side of the room and she took another step without thinking to place a hand on the strangers chest.

With any ounce of strength she had left she forced the pebbles within the creature to make for the floor, and with a deep feeling of regret tried what she'd tried on so many cats, what had been done to her. She willed the man to kneel, imagined the movements it would take and simply prayed she wouldn't be dead in an instant if it failed horribly.

When Aoi didn’t seem to fight back, Yumi wanted to narrow her eyes. She wanted to sneer at the chuunin to not even think about to give in. That it was treason. That such a decision could mean their end. But all that came out was silence. Her lips didn’t even part despite the intense want of Yumi to shout the words. All she could was watching Aoi to move towards the demon.

The demon held his arms spread as a calm smile started to creep on his lips. Suddenly, the smile vanished. His eyes narrowed as his shoulders trembled. Trying to keep his back straight, it seemed as if his own body seemed to disagree. His lips parted as his eyes shot towards his own hands. A heavy struggle was visible as the demon attempted to stay up right. Falling to one knee, a loud grunt followed. As if he realised who was responsible, the demon looked at the chuunin in front of him. The movement in the demon’s right arm seemed to be that of a stiff doll. But the intent to slam the sharp edge into the girl in front of him was clear.

Before the blade could connect, a spike erupted from the ground. Piercing the demon’s arm. Another followed, impaling the demon’s knee. More started to follow and pin the demon down. As more spikes started to flow out of the ground, Yumi started to dissolve into crystal dust.

A gloved hand burst out of the ground. Followed by another. Setting off against the ground, the head of the Scholae followed as she seemed to gasp for air. Focusing her attention at the scenery in front of her. She scoffed before pulling herself out of the ground. So far she could see, there were a dozen of spikes keeping the demon in place.
”There we go. Aoi, I will try to confine it in a second. Catch your breath.”

She realized it was working as the demon seemed to quiver in front of her, tried to move like she had so many years before but instead just managed tiny movements and a nearly unceasingly shaking. It was working. She managed a moment to rejoice before she realized she had no plan further than this. No idea what to do next. She couldn't summon any more iron she'd lose her grip on the demon, and she couldn't lose her grip to use more iron unless she wanted to let it win after getting so far.

The ground parted beneath the thing and another spike rose up to impale the demons arm, followed quickly by more that began to run it through and pin it where it stood. She managed to stumble back and maintain her hold on the thing but felt the beginnings of a massive headache rising in her skull. She saw a halo of light in the corner of her eyes and wondered why the sun had finally decided to show itself before the headache came at her in full force.

Dropping to a knee Aoi clenched at the side of her head, shutting her eyes tight and trying to focus on anything but the headache as every bit of control she had over the demon ceased at once. She gave a small pained laugh and shook her head as Yumi assured her she now had everything under control.

A deep growl emitted from the captured demon. It struggled to break free and soft cracks could be detected, resonated faintly through the deep growls. Though worried about Aoi, Yumi decided to first focus on the demon. She had already burned through a good amount of her chakra reserve. The old trick of creating a crystal clone, forcing it into the ground with the creation of crystal thorns and to then swap with it? It seemed it had worked but not without exhausting a chunk of her chakra.

Forming various handsigns, Yumi inhaled as she would crouch once more. Placing her hands at the ground, she opted to stay outside the reach of the demon. Whatever it could do, it was clear that it could exert influence over a victim. Probably only once it was able to drive its energy into a victim. Conjuring crystal to slowly confine the demon within a prison, Yumi poured more chakra into the technique than she usually did. The lips of the demon parted as it wanted to yell something, only to be frozen in its crystal prison.

Sighing loud, Yumi remained crouched for a moment. Rising up, she would stretch her arms and roll with her shoulders afterwards. ”I am not sure how much time I have bought us but this should give us some time to catch our breath. How are you handling yourself? Ready for a second round?”

Aoi didn't know what was happening, but it at least sounded like Yumi was winning from the way the demon yelled. She pressed her fingers into the side of her head and tried her best to simply will the pain away as she waited to either die at the hands of an enemy she couldn't even open her eyes to see or be told they'd won.

When Yumi spoke it startled Aoi and she turned her closed eyes to face the sound of the Scholae’s voice. Her mind races even through the pain as Yumi said it wasn't yet over. She opened an eye and managed a glance at the creature stuck in its prison of crystal and wondered how it couldn't be over with something like that. She closed her eye and pressed harder at her head. She needed to rest, needed more time than they had to do so. Her nose began to bleed again with a greater flow than before and she could taste the iron on her lips as it did.

“I'm not sure,” she winced as the sound made her headache worse, “I'll be any help anymore.”

Understanding that the chuunin was being at her limits, Yumi couldn’t really avoid the request. ”I still need you to be of help.” As if some unseen force agreed and wanted to validate those words, a loud crack could be heard from the crystal prison. Yumi threw a look at it, silently cursing the stubborn enemy, before turning back to Aoi.

”I still got some chakra left. I will demand its attention. Then I want you to try to lob its head off. We have managed this far. One more attempt.” Stretching a hand towards Aoi, Yumi crafted a smile on her lips. ”If we manage, rounds on me.”
Another loud crackling sound would resonate from the imprisoned demon. Splinters of crystal would drop from the cracks formed as the demon still struggled to free itself from its confines.

There was an intense want to simply lay down and refuse the Scholae’s request. To tell her take take it and shove it up exactly where she knew she should, but instead she opened an eye half way and picked out the hand among the streaking lights and fuzzy distortion of her sight. She reached for it and missed the first time, cursed silently and tried again, clasping Yumi’s hand in her own and struggling to her feet. “I don't think drinks will make up for this request.” Aoi said weakly before studying the ground around her.

Spotting what she was looking for she moved to stand in the ring of iron left from before she'd touched the demon and placed a foot in it as she formed another bird hand sign. It came together painfully slow and she struggled to get it to harden as she normally did so easily. She kept her hands together and focused as best she could over the intensity of the headache. Another large flat blade came together on the ground, clattering around as it jumped and littered while Aoi tried to get it to hang in the air as she always did. She grunted in pain and the blade lifted up to about neck height where it would stay as she shifted herself around to watch the cracking crystal prison. Strange light danced off it and reflected in every direction and she wanted terribly bad to shut her eyes and call it a night as she waited for the demon to escape it's temporary prison.

Smiling as Aoi replied as well trying to pull her last energy into what Yumi hoped to be the last bout with their foe, she turned to the prison. It was now her turn to be the diversion. And without any spare crystal clone to use the body replacement technique with or having her chakra reserve full, Yumi wasn’t keen on the idea of testing her mettle against a demon.
”I figure that drinks don’t make it up. But it is the least. Just focus on the killing blow. Don’t worry about me.” Yumi instructed Aoi, raising her hands as the crystal prison started to tremble slightly.

Stepping away from Aoi, Yumi would position herself in front of the demon. Focusing everything on the cursed foe, she tried to calm herself down. ”He knows where I am. And He knows who I am. He knows what I must do. And He knows how I shall do it.” It became more apparent that the demon wasn’t finished. Suddenly its right hand bursted through the crystal. Its expression slowly seemed to be able to shift. Into one of pure anger.

”Through Him the Fire shall shine bright. Through Him I shall know what’s right. The Fire Guides. ” Yumi calmly said as she would take her fighting stance. Raising her hands up, she would lightly hop, readying herself for the impending confrontation.

Aoi knew the prayer Yumi was reciting. Well enough that on any other day she may have joined the woman, but she didn't have the strength left to do anything but listen, taking small solace in the words as she watched the blurry back of Yumi ahead of her. She coughed as she took a breath and inhaled some of her own blood and the blade at her side wavered until Aoi calmed the coughing down. She watched as the demon's hand came through the Crystal and noted solemnly the ending of the short prayer.

She held the blade back to wait for her chance, focused her vision on the thing in the crystal and tried her best to ignore the dancing lights and brilliant radiance that shone off of every edge of the crystal it was encased in.

The crystal splintered. Without much of a bigger warning than the sound of the material breaking and sundering with the demon breaking out, the cursed foe rushed forward. A yell burst through the sound of the violence as the demon closed in the distance. It started to swing its arms, attempting to just hack out of pure rage at Yumi that was the first on its path.

Bracing herself, Yumi narrowed her eyes and clenched her right hand in a fist. The first swing was stopped by the young woman’s fist. The crackling sound of the sharp edge slamming against the thick layer of crystal resonated loudly for Yumi. Feeling how she was slightly pushed back by the impact, the heavy vibration caused her to flow more chakra to reinforce the crystal armouring her entire arm. Noticing the swing from the left, Yumi opened her hand. For what she wanted to do would invoke more risk and harm but she was prepared if that meant she could once more restrain their opponent.

The sharp edge would bite into the crystal. Digging in deep and just about enough to give Yumi a reason to worry, for she felt the unnatural warmth against her own skin. But she managed to catch the blade with her hand. Closing and tightening her grip, Yumi softly inhaled. Focusing, she started to flow her chakra further than her arms and hands. The demon seemed to understand what her intention was, trying to pull its arms back as it yelled straight at her.
Grunting, Yumi experienced a sharp pain at her shoulders. Despite struggling back and with the aid of her crystal, it felt like the demon was about to rip her arms off.
”Aoi, now!” Yumi shouted, fighting back against the tears welling at her eyes.

The sound of the demon breaking free of its cage caused the pain in her head to triple. Her vision hazed over and she could barely make out what was happening in front of her. The blade at her side fluttered and jumped as Aoi struggled to keep it steady as she listened to the sounds of the blades strike at Yumi. She couldn't tell who was who. She knew Yumi was closest but the lights were making it hard to tell just which one of the shapes was closest. They seemed to bend and join, forming one never ending coiling image of the grapple in her eye. Light danced and jumped in and around the two figures, moving through them and disappearing as if swallowed by the darkness that made up the demon and Yumi. She couldn't strike without risking the wrong figures life. She couldn't do it or she'd hit the wrong one.

The yell of Yumi to act broke Aoi's heart. The desperate call for her to finish the demon was beyond her ability to meet with any surety. She screamed and sent the blade in a long circle around to her right to try and miss Yumi before bringing it back in and passing it through one of the two figures necks. She felt more than just blood running down her face and realized she was crying, so terrified of killing Yumi she'd brought herself to tears.

It stopped.

As sudden as it had began, it came to a halt. Only for a brief moment, it just came all to a sudden halt. Yumi stared at the scene in front of her. The warm sensation that had splashed against her face had been registered, forcing her to close her eyes. As she opened her eyes again, the odd absence of the struggle made her wonder if she was now dying. If this was truly the end. Somehow, she wanted to think she would have peace with that. To see her life ending in a fierce struggle against a demon. The thought would likely cause her to laugh and grin. She doubted that there was little more heroic ending and that neither Tsubasa or Kiyomi couldn’t surpass her in that.

But she wasn’t dead.

Staring at the demon, she was speechless. The blade had lobbed itself deep into the monster’s neck. The image of a wounded man briefly made her forget what it was. Slowly the dangerous foe seemed to try to repeat the process of before.
”No,” Yumi groaned as she would break off her hold on the right. With her hand free, she grabbed the blade of iron. But in doing so, the demon was able to slam his arm in her side. The sharp pain flowed through her side to the rest of her body. Wincing, Yumi lodged the iron blade loose and delivered another strike. Followed by another. Only ending with a soft gasp as the pain became too much.

Collapsing on her back, she was barely able to register the sound of the demon falling on the ground. The disgusting sensation and idea of having demon’s blood on her face was driven away by the sharp stings of pain at her side. Not registering any sound that indicated that the demon was rampaging anymore, Yumi closed her eyes. A soft sound escaped the Scholae, the vague sound being close to that of a laugh.

”I can use a drink.”

When silence fell upon the room Aoi was sure she'd Lille she wrong figure. Positive that the demon was simply going to stride up to its defenseless prey and finish the job as it had said it would. There was a sound of hacking at flesh and a gasp of pain that filled her mind and she watched as a figure fell away. She closed her eyes shut and fell to her knees, the demon just moments away from ending her as well only to be surprised by the sound of a second body collapsing. She fell forward on her hands and wretched as the pain in her mind spiked, giving up what little she'd managed to eat before they entered the cave in a sad little puddle at her hands.

When Yumi spoke she was overwhelmed, she hadn't killed her ally. Hadn't doomed herself with a simple mistake. It took a moment to dawn on her that this silence, and the talking of Yumi meant they had won. Or at least it seemed as such.

She waited to answer her, listening out for the sounds of the demon reviving itself for a third time before she allowed herself to fall over on her side, content that they had finally bested the foul beast of Darkness.

“First round’s on you.” she replied to Yumi before scrunching her face together in pain and riding out the worst of the headache as it came at her.

Hearing Aoi replying, Yumi felt a wave of relief washing over her. She pressed against the wound at her side. It wasn’t life-threatening. While it certainly stung a lot, she was certain it was superficial. And with the demon dead for real, she wasn’t worried it could control her again.

”Yeah,” she said. Taking a few seconds, she was sure that they were both in no shape to be of aid to the others. Perhaps that they could call in the back up at the entrances? ”You did great Aoi.” Yumi managed to press that short sentence out. Wanting to work herself up to inspect their kill, she felt too tired. Fatigue started to settle and seemed to force Yumi on her back. Content with complying, she spoke up again.
”Stay there. I...” Yumi’s voice trailed off. She wasn’t sure what to say to comfort the chuunin. ”I am fine. I will contact the others in a second.”

Aoi didn't really have a response for Yumi. She'd felt she'd barely performed at a level to of been any great deal of help, that she'd simply persisted off of shear luck or the overconfidence of the demon they faced down. There were more options of course, but thinking hurt her head too much, and the prospect of giving even a simple reply to the Scholae seemed a far and away option to choose. She struggled a moment for a clear stretch of her own mind and managed to force herself to speak, “Thanks…” she replied with a shaky voice and a mind that told her she didn't deserve the words of the Scholae. She'd nearly deserted when the true form of the stranger became evident, had falter on more than one occasion, had almost killed Yumi herself. She wasn't deserving of the woman's compliments, of her reassurance.

She rolled herself slightly and gagged again as the headache flared. She wretched and say up quickly as she emptied the remaining contents of her stomach where her head has just been and quietly pulled herself away and toward the figure that she was pretty sure was Yumi. She clawed at the ground and worked for every viable handhold as she brought herself to rest near the Scholae. “I don't…” She paused and winced in pain, “I don't know about you, but I don't think I've got it in me to get up those stairs right now.” she admitted before shutting her eye again.

“I'd thought I killed you.” She admitted as her headache grew in intensity, ”God I thought I'd done you in.” she opened an eye to watch the lights dancing around, “We can rest a bit yeah? Then go back together… I don't want you to leave me here with that demon.” she said before closing her eyes and biting through the headache once more.

Hearing Aoi, Yumi absentmindedly nodded. Upon hearing the faint sounds of movement, Yumi’s heart skipped a beat. Instantly, she was worried that the demon had decided to rise again. If that had been the case, Yumi wasn’t so sure if she could withstand another onslaught of the foul creature’s powers. Noticing it was Aoi, Yumi briefly twisted her head to throw a look at the chuunin. When the blue haired chuunin mentioned the stairs, Yumi had to hold back a laugh with a soft snicker. Slowly inhaling and exhaling a second later, she would nod again.

”To be fair. I thought you had killed me too. But yeah,” Yumi closed her eyes as the ghost of a smile dawned on her lips. Relaxing a bit, she would respond a moment later. ”We can rest a bit. And then ask those guys back to pick us up.”
 
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►Tomiko Hyuuga and Hiron Hon◄
►Team: Team 9 Genin
►Location: Konohagakure Training Fields
►Interactions: Shadow Clone of Hiron Hon
►Writer(s): A collab by Gerontis and Jason

  
Hiron had remained silent as he watched from his spot. No change in expression or composure as Kyoi and Karma would be given a chance to try to teach something useful to the genin. The whole affair wasn’t, however, just aimed at the genin but also at those two. Making mental notes, Hiron waited till they were done. Waiting a moment longer, he spoke up. ”Well, those were the signs that you can encounter. You each will get a scroll or so, later about the others. I expect you all to learn and memorise them. We will round today’s training with a small exercise.” Pausing, Hiron threw a glance at each of the genin. ”Each of you will be ‘given’ a shadow clone. Up to you on how to try to defeat it. If you don’t manage to defeat it within ten minutes or so, you have lost. Next training, you will be burdened with a heavier exercise.”

After finishing, Hiron conjured three said shadow clones. Each shadow clone of his would take a genin to another part of the field. The real Hiron crossed his arms out front of his chest and frowned at Karma and Kyoi. ”You two. How do you think your little training went with the genin?”

Tomiko quietly followed the shadow clone that she had been assigned to towards the part of the field it took her towards. Already she knew she couldn't beat it in a straight-up brawl. On top of that, she had no clue how Hiron fought. Letting out a brief sigh, she tried to think of ways to gain the upper hand on the training field, which was rather open and plain unfortunately. Perhaps she could try blinding him somehow? That might allow an opening. Maybe use the new technique she learned from Aiko? Indecision sat with the genin as she noticed the shadow clone had stopped. Allowing herself a deep breath, forcing herself to focus. First, learn how he would react. Second, work from there to beat the clone.

With her plan in mind she pulled the bow from her back. Giving the clone a brief bow, to show respect she would wait a few moments to give it a chance to return the gesture, or not. Then she pulled an arrow and moments later sent it flying towards the clone’s chest. An easy attack to dodge, she was sure, but she wanted to see how it would react first.

”A bow,” Hiron mumbled when Tomiko decided to first grab her weapon. Her making a bow to him was met with a light scoff. The shadow clone didn’t return the gesture in the slightest, simply watching as the genin deigned it a worth attempt to just straight out shoot an arrow. As if he would stand still the moment they were going to start, more so when she decided to pull out a bow.
Dodging the arrow with a skid to the side, the jounin’s shadow clone wouldn’t make any following move. Simply staring at Tomiko, the man seemed to wait if she was going to fire off another arrow.

As the shadow clone skidded to the side, Tomiko adjusted her aim and fired ahead of the clone. This time aiming to keep it from moving too far to that side. Then Tomiko moved to her right in an attempt to circle the clone, hoping to open up a chance to get arrows around it. Afterall, she would then be able to trap it and work from there.

Expecting that the genin would do something like that, the shadow clone halted his movements. Noticing that Tomiko started to move to her right, the shadow clone scoffed. Pulling out three shuriken, the jounin would start to envelop them in chakra but didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to throw an attack back.

The girl then adjusted her aim, lining up a shot carefully to miss the clone while hopefully looking like it was shot towards him. After a moment she let the arrow fly and immediately began moulding the chakra in her body as she dropped the bow to start weaving handsigns as the arrow tore through the air between them.

Watching how the genin would nock another arrow, a sigh escaped Hiron. Waiting, he would simply move to the right to avoid the arrow. The shuriken that he held in his right hand were shining brighter as the intensity of the chakra would increase, softly creating a whistling sound. As Tomiko weaved various handsigns, Hiron frowned but once more seemed to not be interested to attack the Hyuuga.

Too late the girl realized that her arrows had flown too far, something she hadn't thought of in the moment and watched as the technique simply failed with an unimpressive display of a few sparks at the arrows. Swearing under her breath, her gaze shifted towards the brightly glowing shuriken in his hand, worried about what those might be used for. If she could somehow close the distance, she'd be at a disadvantage but those shuriken might become less useful. Lost in her thoughts for a few moments, the girl reached into her pouch to grab a bolt for her wristbow before loading it. Okay. Blind him, then rush and try to get a shot in on his throwing arm. She thought herself, hoping her idea might work.

Moulding chakra, the chakra wouldn’t just be moulded through his hands and arms. It seemed to spread underneath Hiron’s skin, as if it was charging for something ominous. Readying itself to be unleashed on the man’s command, his mere will of letting it be unleashed.
Spotting Tomiko loading her wristbow, Hiron’s eyes narrowed. He threw the shuriken. The projectiles would soar fast through the air. One straight for the girl while the others were slightly curved.

Her eyes widening as the shuriken flew directly at her, Tomiko twisted to the side in a move to avoid the first shuriken while also pushing off with her foot to launch herself forwards in a bid to avoid the incoming shuriken from either side. At the same time she let her Byakugan activate to keep watch of the shuriken, and pick her target on Hiron.

Hiron’s eyes half closed as the shuriken were evaded. The chakra that was building up around his body would reveal its nature. Sparks of lightning flashed around Hiron’s right hand, moving around his finger tips.
The same occured around the shuriken, which rapidly seemed to conjure a stream with Hiron’s hand. The faint link seemed to increase in volume, becoming visible for the naked eye. The shuriken halted in the air as the lightning kept expanding, into shapes of hounds as the seconds ticked away. Meaning that Tomiko was flanked by three angles, while facing Hiron.
”You can shoot two more arrows.” The jounin calmly stated as the chakra underneath the man’s skin seemed to fluctuate even more, likely waiting for the man’s next move.

Tomiko’s eyes went wide as she saw the hounds forming all around her and swore. Hearing what Hiron said, she knew that she didn't have many options. As he told her she could shoot two more arrows, the girl simply nodded as she notched an arrow. Aiming it towards the man’s leg so it would either hit or land in the ground behind him. Channeling a small amount of chakra into the arrow, she knew that she needed to get the hell out of being surrounded or else. Then the girl let the arrow fly in hope her plan would work.

She was actually going to try to shoot another arrow? Genin these days were certainly of different material than what he was used to. The arrow wouldn’t get far as the charged chakra would partly flair up. Lashing out from the briefly formed current that formed around Hiron’s body, the jounin scoffed - a sound barely audible with the violent energy crackling through the air.
”I suppose this is the time to tuck your toys away, rookie. Your eyes will mean that I can’t hide most tricks. But I think you understand that I got you pinned down. So, your choice. Either you make one more move and I will make you sit down. Or you be a good little genin, put your weapons down and listen to why I deem you having failed this test.” The jounin calmly said as the crackling of lightning hounds behind Tomiko were a subtle reminder that the words weren’t any bluff.

Hearing what Hiron said, and watching as her arrow was stopped rather easily by Hiron’s technique, her eyes went a little wide and she nodded slowly. Putting the bow on her back, she quietly looked towards Hiron for a moment before nervously eying the lightning hounds that she was all too aware were behind her. ”Yes Sensei.” She said, although she figured a large part of the reason she failed was her lack of achieving the goal in the exercise. The girl silently wondered for a moment if the other two had managed to defeat their respective shadow clones before focusing back on the clone at hand.

”Huh,” the shadow clone frowned. The lightning beasts didn’t vanish nor did the jounin seem to stop to fluctuate his chakra. ”Always amazing how cooperative people are when they are facing huge odds. I wish it was always like that,” he mumbled, audible enough for Tomiko. Letting the lightning vanish, the jounin’s frown didn’t vanish from his brow.
”So, that was pretty dumb. Going against a jounin but thinking that in such range a bow would be useful. If it was anymore straightforward, I would have likely fallen asleep.”

The shadow clone shook his head. ”No matter what plan you had, you fucked up. And don’t start on that there is a huge gap between us. If a mere chuunin could make a kage sweat without any huge techniques, then I don’t see why a genin couldn’t make a jounin have a run for his money. So, why did you even try to fight against somebody you knew that was much more experienced, skilled and stronger? Not to begin, that you likely are aware that I know almost every trick that is present on your profile? Those guys at the ID don’t fuck around, kid.”

Hiron was extremely blunt, that much as certain. The Hyuuga looked away slightly in embarrassment before gathering herself and focusing back on what the man had to say. ”The task given was to defeat the shadow clone, otherwise we would lose. So I had to try to fight or fail the training regardless.” The girl replied, sounding a tad bit confused by that question. She was certain she had been tasked with defeating the clone, and not fighting the clone sounded like an odd way to defeat it. Unsure of what he was getting at, the genin decided to ask for clarification. ”Are you saying that perhaps I should have tried to run or hide, or elsewise get away Sensei?” She asked, already mentally bracing herself for another blunt reply.

”Yes.”

The perhaps cryptic response wouldn’t be followed instantly with an explanation. Almost as if the jounin expected that the genin could piece it together. ”I indeed give the task to try to beat the shadow clone. You knew what you were up against. Somebody that knew your tricks, skills and techniques. Meanwhile, what do you know about me? That I have trained other people? That I am a jounin? Perhaps you have been smart enough to collect information beforehand? Likely not. Genin lately don’t seem to sport so much intelligence nor willing to prepare for the unknown as they once used to. But I will blame that on the Academy growing soft on you lot.”
The man’s eyes briefly narrowed before he sighed and shook his head again.

”You’re what? A genin with merely a mission behind your belt. Not experienced enough to guard a noble, I wager. Let alone be stationed at a military outpost and do tasks like patrol or standing guard. I am going to be blunt with you kid, you’re a nameless piece of meat. A stain on society, if we go by what the common man thinks of you. You’re nothing and likely will be nothing. Just another shadow that sooner or later will be devoured by the light.”
Letting the words bite deep, Hiron’s tone didn’t change as he continued. ”So, unless you’re one of those idiots that believe that honour will serve them in the afterlife, I don’t see why you couldn’t run and hide. Your death won’t make anybody go out and revenge you. Nobody notable, I wager. It is how things are. People might even expect it from you. A mere genin, worth little more than the shit-air she breathes out. Now, take that in your mind and think about it. Do you want to die like that? Cause no matter how you twist or bend it. If this was a real fight, you would have been dead within a beat.”

Tomiko stood completely still as Hiron spoke, not having braced herself for his reply well enough evidently. His words certainly did bite deep into the girl, grabbing straight for her insecurities about whether or not she was good enough. A part of her whispered how he was right, that she truly was nothing and a stain on society. She’d seen enough dirty looks on the streets to understand that much. She wanted nothing more right not than to take him up on his suggestion, to run and hide at the moment. Yet there wouldn’t be much of a use in doing that. She shook her head as a simple response to the question of if she wanted to die like that. Not because of the people who wouldn’t care, which she was sure were plenty, but because of those who would. She took a few breaths to stabilise herself, figuring there was no benefit if she spoke and sounded like she had been hit as hard as she had.

”No Sensei. I don’t want to die like that.” She replied softly, unsure of what else to say at the moment. That next time she would do better? That just sounded so… fake. She would certainly train and try to do better from here on out, but she hoped that much would be assumed at least.

”Then think and prepare next time. Even for the unknown. For now, I consider that we are done for today. You will soon get one of those two of earlier helping you,” the shadow clone casually raised a thumb over his shoulder from they had came from. ”Regardless which of the two I will assign to you, I further instruct you think about today. If I ever catch you again doing as stupid as today, I am going to take your fingernails. Dismissed.”
That said, the shadow clone would poof away, without giving Tomiko a chance to reply.

As the shadow clone disappeared in a small poof, the girl’s expression could only be described as utter shock. ”Take my what!?” She suddenly exclaimed, finding that his threat was just so…. out there. Not that the genin doubted he would deliver on it, but it seemed so weird and specific. Shaking off the surprise, the girl turned and walked back towards the original fields, somewhat hoping to catch Kyoi before she left and chat with the girl.

  

 

FrostedCaramel

God's in His Heaven, All's Right With the World.
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A View of the World - Ocean Spray | Republic of the Water Country |

Once again a view into the world beyond our average frame of reference. This is purposefully a little confusing.
  
Masimoto had wanted to sail since he was a young boy growing up on the coast. He’d pestered his parents to wake up early enough to watch the fishermen depart for their day on the seas to bring back the catch that would sustain his village and the surrounding countryside. Had spent years of his young life fashioning toy boats from sticks and leaves and imagining grand journeys across uncharted waters, of sea monsters and pirates, princesses in need of saving, and heroic battles on the high seas. So much was his dream to sail that once old enough he’d gotten a job at the villages wharf, helping to unload the days catch and on rare occasions goods from a trade vessel that found their village to be the closest port to their merchandises final destination.

He’d taken in those ships with wide eyes the first time he’d seen them. Just a fresh dockhand none the wiser of the large trade ships that stopped in every few months. They were far larger than the small boats that the local men took out for their work every morning, the first had been well over fifteen meters in length, with two large square sails and a hull shaped like a horseshoe. The men that had heaved their lines for him to moor were obviously foreigners, their accents were thicker than his, hard to understand and course like gravel, and they sported beards and long hair kept in loose knots above their heads. Though he couldn’t exactly tell where they were from, he had been given a clue by a fellow dockhand that the ship was from the East, that it had braved the desolate and unforgiving Kaijuu Ocean to reach them and deliver their goods.

He hadn’t believed it then, had thought it silly that anyone would do such a thing when there were far easier ways to sail from the Eastern Continent to the Water Country. But over time he’d come to see they were telling the truth, that these sailing men were far braver and more experienced than he could ever wish to be in their craft, and never had he been so painfully aware of the fact as he was now.

A soft spray dotted his face and a heavy creaking filled his mind as he stirred, his head felt heavy and his mind was hazy as he tried to remember what he was doing laying out in the rain, but the water was salty, unlike the rain he had expected it to be, and it stung as it touched him in different places. Masimoto opened his eyes and finally remembered just what he’d been doing as he watched everything unfold around him in blisteringly slow motion.

Flaming arrows whistled overhead, so clear in his vision where they that he could have counted the individual barbs were he to just stand up and pluck one of the slow moving projectiles from the sky. The mast above him was fully engulfed in flame, the proud ends of arrows sticking out and defiantly refusing to light as if to proclaim their victory over the far larger piece of wood, and all around him, people died.

A man doubled over, an arrow in his gut as he had been scrambling for the relative safety of the ship’s hold, another, a newer deckhand by the name of Kishi stumbled around aimlessly with a still flaming arrow lodged in the side of his neck before a second arrow caught him in the side of the head and sent him tumbling over the edge of the ship and into the frothing water below. Somewhere above and behind Misamoto someone was screaming, the final calls of a man at the end of his life that Misamoto couldn’t bring himself to look at. He turned onto his side and rose to his knees as he took in the sight with wide eyes.

“Misamoto! Misamoto come on! We need to get inside!” came a yell from a voice that was starkly familiar, he turned to catch the determined face of the ships first mate, Yuuji Tosai as he made his way across the deck of the ship as if the arrows whistling past him couldn’t harm him. Misamoto nodded as the gravity of what was going on began to set in, he rose and started to run to meet Yuuji as the man turned back to the hatch that led below. He was right on Yuuji’s heels, the safety of the below decks just a meter or two away when there was a heavy crack from Misamoto’s right side. He had turned at the noise to take in the vessel at their side and hadn’t noticed as the ballista bolt simply picked Yuuji up and split him in half before discarding him over the edge of the ships rails.

The ship was larger than their own ship, some twenty or more meters in length and with a vaguely familiar horseshoe shaped hull that was ornately decorated in blues and golds. A beautifully carved length of the hull was fashioned to appear as though golden rope had been faceted into the hull just below the weather deck and stationed along its sides were tall shields with raised windows evenly spaced throughout with archers perched at every opening. He had a few more seconds of precious time to take in the sight, the “Junk” as he had come to know the style of ships from his days on the wharf was fitted for battle. At the aft of the ship and raised up on its own platform sat a ballista, currently being loaded by a well drilled crew of men dressed in armor dyed a deep red seemingly to contrast the blue and gold of their own ship. Atop their heads sat filthy hair formed into knots and their faces where nearly covered by their beards. He had enough time to work out that they were from the East before he was struck by a hail of arrows and his world went black and quiet.
  

The beat of the drums filled his mind. The incessant pace of the drumming urged him to action, reminded him of all that was at stake, reminded him of his duty. The drums began to pick up, he paced the rows of men and blew water from his face as it sprayed down through the grate above him. Men shivered and moaned, men cried out in pain and exhaustion, some were stronger than others, more well built or muscled, some breathed slow and steady and others fast and panicky, but one thing remained the same, one thing resounded louder than the drums beating at his mind, all of the men rowed.

A shout from above signaled a change in pace, the officers tone of voice alone enough to tell Lieutenant Himigo Sai all he needed to know, “Ramming speed!” he bellowed at the top of his lungs as he made to the stern of the ship, watching every single rower as he went. The drums picked up, the pace had already been taxing and the sudden change was all but impossible to match, yet the men rowed. The were a coherent unit, a well trained and disciplined team of rowers, one hundred and seventy in all and not a single one off beat or lagging behind. He’d trained a good crew, a ragtag group of misfits and drifters, criminals and killers, yet here they were, performing their duties to their nation with the utmost of dedication and devotion. He was proud of them for the first time in as long as he could remember.

Armored boots slammed against the grate above him and the boots of Republican Marines began to take their drilled positions on the deck. He watched as they formed groups and dropped to their knees, clutching closely to one another and the rails at their edges. The groups on either side of the ship were then joined by a third group that stationed themselves in the center and used the other two as their anchors. The spray from the waves was now drenching everyone aboard the ship and Sai could see the Marines shivering as they waited in somber anticipation of what was to come.

Another yell, louder and far more dire in nature. Sai turned to face the bow, “ORES IN!” he bellowed once more, the order repeated by the men as they pulled their ores in and before Sai could issue his second order the rowers braced themselves over them, “BR---!”

The world ended in a resounding crack.
  

The engagement had been quick, a Republican Squadron of two Triremes and three Akiyama Rammers had happened upon the still smoldering debris of what appeared to be a Republican trade vessel and simply chanced upon a single survivor among the wreckage. The man told of a a trio of ships that had trailed them for nearly two hours before they’d begun gaining on them and once they'd caught up they’d taken the vessel in mere minutes, burning its sails and killing the majority of the crew before setting large barrels of explosives in the hold and destroying the ship entirely. Unwilling to let such a bold act of piracy go unanswered the commander of the squadron of ships had ordered a full pursuit of the three vessels, running his rowers ragged as they used sail and manpower to catch up to the three slower ships.

They’d spent nearly four hours straight giving chase, following the prevailing wind as their only clue as to which direction the pirates had gone off to before a lookout had spotted the ships. With a goal in sight the crews had found a renewed sense of purpose and the squadron of Republican ships had managed to get themselves onto an intercept course in just under thirty minutes. Five ships on three the Republicans were confident of a resounding victory over pirate scum and readied for the final push to destroy the fleeing ships.

They met them side-on. Perfectly aligned to make the most of their specially designed rams as the ships crashed together. Men were hurled from both ships with the earth shaking impacts and materials not properly lashed down came loose and killed those unlucky enough to be in their deadly paths. With barely enough time to recover from the hits the boarding actions had begun, bloody close quarters combat raged for nearly fifteen minutes as the Republicans fought tooth and nail to secure their victory in the face of a ferocious enemy hellbent on taking as many of them as they could with them to their watery graves.
  

“Captain, Sir?”

“Come in Jun, what is it?”

“Sir the men report odd findings on the enemy vessels, images and carvings, things we know nothing about. The enemy too sir, strange tattoos and symbols, they’re definitely not Chonobi or Yakimara Sir.”

“That much was obvious from the ship designsJun, I’ll include it in my report. We must make for port now, this needs to be brought to the attention of the Admirals immediately.”

“Yes Sir.”

To Whom it May Concern,

The Seventeenth Light Patrol Squadron has met and destroyed three ships of foreign design and crew on the Eastern fringes of our maritime territory. The ships appeared to be of make and models similar to those of the trade ships of the Eastern nations. Fast with only wind propulsion they gave even the Akiyama’s a hard time of catching up.

Engagement took place just past eight o’clock, conditions were deteriorating (Wind and wave conditions were moving from moderate to heavy) and allowed for the squadron to move in undetected until it was too late to evade. Successful ramming and boarding of all three vessels, though oddly one vessel did not seem to sink when the RNS Mutsu and the RNS Nagato, both Akiyama Rammers, freed themselves of its hull and left large two by four meter wide holes below the water line. Can not explain the event while still at sea, currently towing said enemy vessel to port.

It is this humble servants opinion that these are no normal pirates, advise that patrols be stepped up in and around the Eastern fringes and the fleet be brought to alert. We can not let our naval might blind us to the possibility of an enemy attempting a naval invasion as it did before.

Current Disposition - Seventeenth Light Patrol Squadron

RNS Hamakaze (Trireme)
-Moderate damage, sails intact, twenty crew lost

RNS Hatsukaze (Trireme)
-Lost with all hands shortly after ramming. Enemy vessel exploded violently, believed that the Hatsukaze pierced a storage area of the ship containing aforementioned barrels used to dispose of the trade ship.

RNS Mutsu
-Moderate damage, sails intact, fifty Republican Marines and half of rowing compliment lost

RNS Nagato
-Largely intact, light damage, no losses

RNS Mikasa
-Heavily damaged during explosion of enemy vessel, remains seaworthy. Sails destroyed, crew in no condition to operate ship, transfers have been made from the RNS Nagato to get the vessel to port.


Very Respectfully,

Captain Hiriho Hamazaki
 
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Spy Games Kukiko Yuki, Shion Kobayashi, Saito Shiori, and Yuyuko Takeda | Republic of the Water Country, Kirigakure - A Park |

The team meets to discuss their most recent mission and the lengths they will need to go to in order to be successful.

A collab between the Frostiest of Camels, Walter, Selko, and Paradox
  
Sat beneath a small gazebo Kukiko watched the snowfall as she waited for her team. The park she was using as a meeting area would normally have been busy if the weather permitted it, but due to the snow there wasn’t a soul around and it afforded a good public place to meet that didn’t seem suspicious while at the same time keeping their actions mostly hidden. She stretched and yawned, reaching a hand out into the flurry and watching as the snow melted in her palm. She sighed and began to go over the mission in her head again, hoping that her students had followed her instructions to the letter and not deviated in the slightest. If they did there would be hell to pay, this mission wasn’t something that she wanted to take lightly.

As Kukiko was waiting, there were a few sounds of skipping footsteps approaching towards the Jonin sensei as Yuyuko headed over, this time without her mask but this time instead of her mask since she was told not to wear it,the young genin wore a black eye patch over her right eye, the same eye her mask was kept on.

Along with her ensemble, she wore coat with a hood with long sleeves that helped keep her arms warm along with a good number of visible pockets. Accompanying the jacket, she wore a pair of jeans due to it affording the young genin a lot of mobility that is rivaled by her normal skirts and it too helping her keep warm in that weather.

As she nears, she waves to Kukiko while heading over to take a seat near her sensei to learn of the mission, her expression seeming rather carefree as she arrives.

Shiori was looking forward to today for a long time. All those years in the academy, the boring lectures, tedious exams, intense training sessions and constant failures. It all boiled down to this very moment. Her first mission with Kukiko Sensei and her newly assigned teammates. She dreamed of this day, and ever since Luna found that note on their doorstep (directed to Shiori), it hit her that it was officially happening. But she was nervous, in fact her nerves were worse than the day she met Kukiko Sensei for a one on one session at that Mizu Kuni Tea shop.

The note had strange directions, wear common clothing or at least nothing flashy, hoods are required, dark clothes preferred, no distinguishing marks (followed by her directing Shiori to wear some sort of mask), and no large weapons only hidden kunais and shuriken. It all seemed easy enough, and on top of that they were to meet at a park during midday. So, without wasting much time, Shiori jumped into the shower, ate some food and pounced into her closet to sort out the clothes that would make her look like the most indistinguishable.

She pulled on some black pants, with leggings underneath to keep her legs warm during the freezing cold conditions. She did the same for her upper body, wearing a long sleeve spandex shirt and pulling on a hoodie over the top of it. She zipped the hoodie up (throwing the hood over her head) and looked at herself in the mirror, approving of the look. In fact, if it wasn’t for her white hairs poking out the sides she would look completely like a boy!

“This is perfect!”

“You look like a boy,” Luna snickered from the doorway.

“Exactly,” She smiled, and turned to face her caretaker, “It’s perfect.”

She then pulled out a replica ANBU mask that she bought from a festival two years ago. It was a duck ANBU mask with dark blue insignias. The only mask she owned, and man was it ugly. But perhaps it would help her blend in more than her markings, so she couldn’t complain. She wore long black socks with wooden Geta on her feet. She hid one of her Kunai in the socks, it wasn’t noticeable until you pulled up the pants leg, then a conspicuous bulge could be found by her ankle. She slid two more Kunai into the inner part of her sleeves and before she knew it, it was time to go before she was late..

She walked to the park as quickly as she could, not wanting to be late, and trying to get used to the Geta on her feet (she only wore these about once a year, and boy, did she hate it). Finally reaching the park, and getting a hang of speed walking in the Geta she waved at Kukiko Sensei and a girl she never met before with an eyepatch over her right eye. She wondered what combat the girl must’ve seen, she must have some experience of course, one doesn’t just lose an eye by accident. The thought of it got her heart racing, were her teammates stronger than her? They must’ve been more experienced!

“Hi, Kukiko Sensei,” She bowed and smiled under the mask, she then turned and bowed while facing the other girl, not trying to seem rude, “Hello, I’m Shiori. It’s a pleasure.”

She took a seat on the other side of Kukiko Sensei, and pointed up at the mask, “Do I have to wear this here, or can I take it off for now?”
Shion was whistling a song to herself, as she walked through the snowy park wearing a dark-cyan jungchimak with black pants and a light-grey hooded scarf. It was surprisingly easy to move around in despite the many layers she had to wear though she was a bit put off by how plain it looked. She had several kunais hidden within the sleeves and the socks. She was also wearing a ninja pouch with her regular ninja tools at the back of her trousers, hidden behind the coattails of her jungchimak.

This was the first mission she went on without her sword. She was never without her sword ever since she got it from her mother, aside from certain occasions. It was her pride, her strength but now without the familiar feeling of the oak sheathe pressing against her through the clothes, she felt naked, weak.

‘Just like that time,’ she thought to herself as her whistling trailed to a stop, memories of the tailed-beast’s attack flashing through her mind. She shook her head off such thoughts before she slapped her face a few times to perk herself up. After all, she is skilled in fists as she is in swords, ‘No need to worry. No need to worry.’

Soon Shion finally reached the gazebo, their meeting point, finding that the rest of the team have already arrived, “Good day to you, sensei, Yuyu and-” the genin’s greeting was cut short as she noticed the ANBU mask on the last member. No, actually it looked more like a replica that could be bought in festivals. The genin slid by Kukiko’s side as she leaned near the jonin’s ears.

“Sensei, I know that you think very highly of our skills but…an ANBU-level mission?” she whispered as she gestured at the masked shinobi, “Isn’t that a little too much, even for us?”

With the arrival of Yuyuko and her greeting Kukiko could only stare a moment at the eyepatch on the girls face. She didn’t blink as her eyes bore a hole into her genins gaze, she was about to speak when the second member arrived, and although she was rather well concealed beneath her clothing it was easy enough to tell it was Shiori behind the ANBU mask once Kukiko had noticed the white hairs sticking out from her hood. She smiled at Shiori and nodded as she asked a question about the mask. Were they all idiots? Was an eyepatch and a fake ANBU mask their definitions of common? Briefly she wondered if there were anyway to work either of these two things in before her train of thought was cut off by Shion’s arrival.

Kukiko gave a mirthless laugh at Shion’s question about their abilities and pointed to Shiori in her ANBU mask, “That?” she waved a hand, “That’s your new teammate Shiori. Not an ANBU.” she said as she’d stand and turn to step out in front of her team and turn around to face them all. She reached a hand forward and cupped the edges of Yuyuko’s eyepatch, pulling it off in a quick motion that snapped the band before she let it fall to the ground, “I said lose the mask.” she stated to Yuyuko, “That doesn’t mean gain an eyepatch.” she finished before turning to Shiori. She sighed and brought a hand to her the side of her head.
“I did write the more common the better right? Does an ANBU mask strike you as common? A simple half-face mask would have been just fine and far easier to conceal than that…” Kukiko said as she reached a hand down her neck and pulled up the elastic half-face face mask hidden beneath her collar. Tugging it off her head she’d toss it to Shiori, “Take that, ditch the ANBU mask. It just needs to cover your markings.” she sighed again and wondered if she had placed too much faith in Shiori from their meeting.

Turning her attention back to the group as a whole she would produce three pieces of paper and hand them out to each of them. “Memorize these symbols, each of you, we will need them for this mission.” she said as she’d take one last look at the odd forms she herself had taken the time to learn. “I hope I don’t have to stress how important it is that everything we do on this mission can never be told to anyone. Not your father Yuyuko, or your mother Shion, or your sister Shiori. Not a soul can know outside of us and those higher than us that placed us on this mission. I will personally get rid of you and whoever you tell if anyone decides to talk to someone that isn’t standing right here, right now.” Kukiko said as her tone became serious, the threat at the end holding an heir of truthfulness as she would then motion to the symbols in her students hands.
“Symbols of the survivors of the Suzu Clan,” she said as she would nod to Shion and Yuyuko, “Same wonderful people that we met on our short trip to that outpost.” she stopped a moment to let them catch up before starting again, “We are to pose as agents of the Suzu Clan. Our target is a portside shipping company by the name of Yasuda Shipping. We are to enter the building, search it for evidence of espionage and conspiracy and seize any documents we can get our hands on…” she wondered a moment how far into the specifics of the mission she should go with the genin and silently decided to leave a few small pieces out, “Once we have searched the entire building and collected all documents we are to deface the inside and outside of it with these symbols, then we are to set it ablaze.” she stopped and took a few steps back to be able to sit on the bench opposite them.

“Yasuda Hirohi is an Akinian Entrepreneur and most importantly, a suspected spy. It’s not believed that he is aware his cover is blown but in order to keep it that way there will be a second team raiding the Yasuda Residence at the exact same time. This way we catch Yasuda and get all his documents, not one or the other. The Akinians must not find out that we are behind this raid and kidnapping… If they do find out it could get…” she remembered the fighting of the war and shuddered, “Unpleasant.”

Pointing to each of them in turn, “There are specific rules we must follow. First,” she raised a finger, “No witnesses are to be left alive. It doesn’t matter if they are Republican citizens that happen to be walking their dog at the wrong time in the wrong place. They see us? They are to be dealt with swiftly, so don't get seen. Second,” she raised another finger, “There are hired security at our site, and they are expected to be equal or higher in level than all of you. That means no fighting alone. You cover each other and back one another up and you live,” she gave a particularly glaring look to Shion, “You decide to go it alone and you die.”

Raising a third finger she would smirk, “No using of our names. No sensei either. I’m One, Shion is Two, Yuyuko is Three, and Shiori you are Four. This only has to happen once we begin our raid. Any questions?” she said as she leaned back and crossed her arms, ready to take the onslaught of questions the girls would likely have.

Yuyuko cringed as she immediately covered her now opened eye with her hand frowning as she nodded to Kukiko sensei.
The genin however seemed to either be extremely dense or she somehow didn’t care about Kukiko’s glare for one reason or another as a reply of her’s came out in a semi monotone. “Oh...pooh, I understand sensei.”

With that, Yuyuko went to paying attention to the mission that was planned out for them while keeping her right hand over her right eye, her left eye however widening as she heard the details of the mission as she decided to lead the ball on this.

“What do we know of the areas around the Yasuda residence, since if this ends in a fight where we leave no one alive, we can at least be able to estimate if we need 2 of us outside for clean up duty.”

Shiori blushed, removed the mask, and waved at the other new girl who seemed to be the her second teammate. So it was this new girl, the girl she first introduced herself to named Yuyu, and herself. This was Kukiko Sensei’s team. Shiori’s nerves seemed to seize once Kukiko removed Yuyu’s eyepatch, and there seemed to be a perfectly fine eye underneath the patch. She twisted her face, wondering what exactly the Yuyul was thinking, but it didn’t take long before Kukiko turned on her for wearing the ANBU mask.

She bit her tongue, refusing to retaliate. It was a bad idea on her part in the first place, there was nothing natural about an ANBU mask. So instead she solemnly accepted the criticism and the half mask, putting it over her markings. Great way to embarrass herself in front of the teammates on the first day huh? She gripped onto the paper that was handed to her by Kukiko, and analyzed the three symbols closely. Only looking up with a bit of worry in her eyes when she mentioned having to get rid of the genin and whoever they tell if word were to leave this park.

This was a wake up call for Shiori, this was no longer fun and games. This wasn’t the academy, this wasn’t play time, she wasn’t hanging out with friends. She was a shinobi, a shinobi of the Republic, and she could possibly die on duty. This was her reality now. Surprisingly, even to herself, this sent a rush through her body. Excitement. This was the life she was going to lead, the life her father lead!

She grinned to herself and glanced back down on the paper, listening closely to the rest of the mission. They were to infiltrate, burn any information they get their hands on, and kill any and all witnesses. Simple enough. As long as it goes smoothly and they work as a team. She glanced over at Yuyuko as she spoke about leaving two people outside for clean up duty.

Shiori personally never killed anyone, nor did she have any plans to up till this day. But orders are orders, and if she had to end the life of an individual to achieve her task she would. “While that sounds like a good plan, it could be risky just sending two people inside. Even with Kukiko Sensei being in there, it’s good to have eachothers backs.” Not that Shiori knew what her teammates were capable of as of yet.

“I’d suggest, if possible, one of us leave behind a Water Clone,” Shiori sounded unsure, not wanting to do it herself due to her lack of Chakra Control. ‘Preferably not me,’ She thought to herself.

"I can summon water clones and so can 'Number One'," Shion gestured her head at Kukiko, "But the problem would be the range. The clones can’t go very far and we don’t know how large the place is.”

“And ‘Number Three’, that was a great question but...” Shion slapped the back of Yuyuko head, “Kill everyone!? We don’t even know how many guards are inside, you idiot! I know you’re confident in our abilities but they got numbers on their side. We would be lucky if we can kill them all by the sunrise, let alone dispose of the bodies. By that time, the Akinian military would be knocking on the doors for all the mayhems we caused.”

“Haah, anyway, one thing I’m more worried about though is the escape route. Stealing the documents sounds simple enough but we also have to deface and burn down the place. That would attract a lot of attention, both from the guards and the civilians,” Shion explained, crossing her arms, “If we want to avoid harming anyone, a solid escape plan would be a necessity.”

“Speaking of which, we’re going to be ‘defacing’ the place which meant we want to paint these in places where you could see them easily,” she continued as she held up the paper with the symbols, “The problem with that is we could either (A) get caught before we finished or (B) the guards discover our ‘art projects’ a second too early and alert the entire place before we can get out.”

“So ‘Number One’, what’s your plan?” she asked Kukiko, “And tell us all about the place’s layout and guards’ schedules. The more you can tell us, the better we can improvise in a pinch.”

Turning to Yuyuko Kukiko shook her head and raised a finger, “First of all, we aren’t operating at the Yasuda residence, that’s another teams job. We’re taking the business front.” she paused and crossed her arms over her chest as she thought for a moment on the girls suggestion to split the team into pairs if they were going to be handling a lot of individuals. She tapped at her forearm and sighed, “Preferrably… We move as a team, and support each other as needed. If that means I handle something alone while you three deal with something else then that’s how it’ll get done. If it means splitting into pairs then we will handle it as such. Can’t know until we’re there. But we do know that it’s waterfront on the docks. Surrounded by buildings on three sides and with water to its store front. The time we go in we shouldn’t expect to see much of anyone out that late and we don’t need to kill everyone, only those that get a good enough look to say we definitely weren’t survivors of the Suzu.” she turned her attention to Shiori and smiled, the girl was thinking a bit further from the normal than Yuyuko seemed to stray. That was good.

“A water clone can work, though once we’re inside we don’t have much to worry about. If someone hears commotion and come inside we kill them. If they run for the dock guard? We hope to be gone before they arrive, otherwise things might get messy.” she shrugged and shook her head, “It’s going to be something we figure out as it happens, but like I said, I don’t expect much of anyone to be out so late at night. Just the mercenaries hired to guard the office.”

With Shion chiming in, and using their numbers as well Kukiko found herself smiling. A bit of elation at the fact that she didn’t need to provide all the answers to these three, that they could; to a reasonable amount; figure out a few ways to go about this on their own. All she needed to do was offer the fine tuning and refinement that only experience could bring.

“Shion I trust you can handle the clone. It doesn’t need to be able to fight, only alert us of unwelcome guests.” she smirked as the girl brought up the size of the place, “It’s smaller than a training field. Two stories, multiple offices. We take what we can, bringing bags for documents. Burn whatever we can’t carry. But…” she looked to Shion with a grin, “We can use clones to help carry things.” she said with a wink.
“As far as the plan goes? We kill the mercenary guards and then deface. Try and finish before anyone gets curious. If they do then we deal with them.” she shrugged again and raised her hands at her side, “Anymore questions? I’m sure you all have more… Also you don’t need to use the numbers just yet Shion.”

As Yuyuko took in the information, she nodded with understanding as she kept her right hand covering her right eye even though the eye patch was long forgotten on the ground. For one reason or another but one thing that would at least be sure to all others present, Yuyuko really did not like to have that eye open for some reason as the genin decided to speak.

“Well for now, I shall wait until we start before going with the numbers, and for my question, if I put it on the off chance that we have to scatter and escape, how should we go about it, throw out a flare or just run? Or am I to assume by that point, we are expendable and to be eliminated?” Yuyuko said with a straight and matter-of-fact tone while looking at Kukiko with a half-dead look in her exposed eye, similar to the one she made on the way back from the previous mission.

Shiori glanced at Yuyuko, surprised not only at how well thought out the question was, but how very true it could have been. They were expendable, just a bunch of genin. The Republic could pull out a fresh batch like them around next year, and they’d be forgotten forever as statistics in the history books. Or perhaps just forgotten? The thought of it made Shiori shiver. She was a pawn, and if she didn’t play her part she would be expendable.

She looked back at Kukiko Sensei, nodding at her own thoughts. “Yeah, I’m curious as to what we would do if everything goes south. But, might I add, if we do this the right way and move in with stealth at our side, there will be no need to worry about things going wrong. You did say we’re trying to go in and get out as fast as we can correct Sensei?”

Thinking to herself she decided to ask, “Then what should the ideal time be that we should take? We should take less time than you would estimate. The proper way to do that is to work as a team-” She glanced at the two girls that were her new teammates, “and if I somehow ruin the chemistry for being new to the team, than I wouldn’t mind being the lookout instead of infiltrating.”

"Chickening out already, new girl?" Shion said with a chuckle as she slapped Shiori’s back, “Don’t worry about team chemistry or whatever. We can deal with that as we go, okay?”

She wouldn’t blame the girl if she was actually scared. After all, even she had some doubts herself, having to go into the place without her sword. She took a glance at Yuyuko, feeling something off about the girl. Maybe it was because of the lack of eyepatch, she thought to herself though she suspected there was something more.

“Anyway sensei, we’re masquerading as agents of Suzu-clan, right?” she asked Kukiko, “So...in case we get detected, we should act like we’re from Suzu-clan to avoid giving away our real identities, right? After all, it’s not like they can identify us if we properly cover our faces.”

“And senseiiii, when are we going back to numbers?” the genin whined, “They sound much cooler. Feels like we’re ANBU or something.”

Shrugging slightly at Yuyuko over her question about how to escape Kukiko would sigh, “Just run. Make your escape. If you can’t get away then kill whoever it is chasing you, if you can’t kill them then I guess you have to die… Though I’d much prefer it if you all live.” she said as she’d turn to Shiori who began to ask the same thing.

“Perhaps clones? Or come to me. Second thought come to me. I’m your best chance of not having to die, so if we get caught we regroup inside the building and improvise from there.” Kukiko stated with a nod before crossing her arms over her chest. “I ran through it a few times as far as how quick we need to be…” Kukiko glanced over her shoulder and into the empty park of white, “Fifteen minutes tops. That’s about how long I expect it to take the town guard to show up. Anymore than that and we will be pushing our luck with the Shinobi of the police force.” she said as she’d turn back to Shiori.

She shrugged again with her shoulders, “In and out in ten minutes if we can manage it. Twenty if we want to push our luck to the extremes. And we need you in there with us. I can’t have you outside alone to run into guards or something more skilled.” with that done she turned to Shion.
She gave a small smile and nodded as the girl stated about hiding their identities, “That’s right for the most part. Why I have you guys in plain clothes and hoods. If you get caught don’t talk at all, don’t say anything. Don’t play a part or act something out just keep quiet. During fights, as we’re in there doing our job. Every moment of this. Don’t talk to fit a role. Only say what you need to say then shut it.”

“We can get back to the numbers tonight when we do this.” Kukiko finished before standing, “Meet me at the docks at midnight, it’s supposed to be overcast tonight too. So we’ll have darkness on our side.” she nodded to her students and began to walk away before stopping to look back at them, “If you all have half masks like the one I gave Shiori, I think it’s best to bring those tonight… And darker clothing. All of you darker clothing.”
Yuyuko nodded as she heard the instructions that Kukiko gave to them, more or less a simple infiltration before they fade into a role, granted with how things are going and with what happened on the last mission, anything could happen but as she begun to think back on it, her eyes focused on Kukiko while considering what she would need for the mission that was going to be done by all 3.

While more or less Kunais and shurikens were viable options, she begun thinking of other more suitable choices to complement the items they had to work with.

With all that was checked out, she more or less had an idea on what else needed to be brought as her eyes started glancing at the area before she bent down to pick up a pebble that was slightly bigger than a marble and glanced around for more as she replied to her sensei who had now paused to inform them to bring any half masks that may exist at their respective houses.

“Understood, Sensei.”

Shiori still couldn’t believe just how strong the opposing shinobi could be. If it came down to the wire, Kukiko advised that they restrain from fighting one on one and that their best chance of survival was going to her. To think this would be Shiori’s first mission was exciting, but nerve wracking at the same time. Sure, she was trained for this, but she never was involved in any real life threatening combat. “I’m not chickening out,” Shiori whispered and grabbed her left arm with her right hand, it was obvious she was nervous but she meant those words.

“By the docks, got it.” Shiori nodded, also making a mental note of the clothes and using the half mask Kukiko Sensei granted her. “Then I’ll see you three tonight,” She stood, bowing and giving them one last half smile, before turning on her heels and walking the way she came.

“Alright, girls. See you later,” Shion waved her friends goodbye as they disappeared into the mist.

“Annnd...I guess I don’t have any questions either,” the genin said as she rubbed her chin, “So see you at the docks too, sensei.”

A few seconds later, just as Kukiko was about to leave, Shion ran back into the gazebo, her face covered in sweat despite the cold. Wiping the sweat off her face, she said with heavy pants in between, “Actually sensei...I just remembered...that I do have some questions...”
 

Oetje

Stormraven
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
My Usual Online Time
Really sporadic. My schedule is somewhat of a mess at times.
Writing Levels
Intermediate
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I can go with both. I am rather flexible.
Favorite Genres
I like a lot of genres such as magical, modern, fantasy. Anything with an interesting plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anything that is too focused on something that I don't feel too comfortable with. Such as furry.
Team Nishi, Training!
Kirigakure, the capital of the Republic of the Water Country.
Team Nishi.

A collab between Jason, Celestial and Oetje.

Summary:
Nishi rallies her students in a training field. A certain test has been readied for them, which seems to bring up some doubt and questions for two members of the team. Though the training hasn't ended in a particular positive fashion, it may bring some developments. Time will tell if those developments shall be favourable or not.


  

Moving the whetstone down the blade, Nishi whistled a tune that had been rather popular a decade or so ago. Sitting on top of a rock, the trainingsfield was empty save it for some puddles. The grass and dirt were soaked and made the field more muddy than the usual fog could achieve on its own. Yet, that didn’t deter Nishi from holding a team training. While she could have enlisted her team to do a mission, the jounin wasn’t convinced that they would be capable of performing to the standards. Of course, standards that she set out for them.

The only difference with the last training, except the mud and looming risk of more rainpour to pester everybody, was that there was some preparation. A canvas was put over what seemed to be a box or two, stationed to Nishi’s right.


Yukimi arrived at the field a bit early from the training, appreciating the excuse to go out for the day. Father could just be… too much sometimes. So as she made her way onto the training field, she rather quickly picked up on the preparation as she approached the woman whistling a tune she hadn’t heard since being a little girl. Stopping a respectful distance, Yukimi gave a polite, and elegant bow towards the bow. Nothing even slightly off from what was expected as the girl had been through quite a bit of training on how to be ‘polite’. "Goodmorning, Sensei. Might I ask what the boxes are for today?” She said, with a faux smile on her features, though her curiosity in what the boxes hidden under the canvas was rather genuine.


It was another day and training would continue. Claire was only a few minutes behind Yukimi on arriving. Glancing at the boxes she figured they would deal with today’s training. The field definitely had seen better days and the mud clung to her shoes. Looking at Nishi, Claire smiled and then looked at Yukimi, keeping her smile. ”Goodmorning Sensei, goodmorning Yukimi.” The tune sounded familiar but the genin didn’t think much of it. The whetstone making a noise that made her shiver as Nishi worked the blade. ”Are we using the boxes for training?” Her eyes shifting to the boxes and canvas once more.


The first to arrive was Yukimi, to which Nishi nodded.

”Morning Yukimi. And you may. But I won’t answer.” The woman replied, a hint of amusement lingering in her tone.

Soon enough, Claire arrived on the scene and wished them good morning as well. The genin seemed interested in the boxes as well but the jounin wouldn’t yet hint on what was hidden underneath the blankets.

”Morning Claire. So, let us start with a warming up. Just a few laps around the field and give me twenty push ups. Also, I got a question for each of you to think about and answer once you’re done with your warming up.”


Nishi looked at Yukimi first.

”What is most important for a shinobi?”

The woman then turned her attention to Claire, posing another question.

”What is most vital for a team to succeed?” Once she had asked the questions, Nishi gestured that they could start with their warming up.


Yukimi gave a polite nod towards Claire, but didn't speak as Nishi seemed to immediately want to get started. Yukimi wasted no time getting started on the exercises that were assigned. Nothing terrible, that much was certain, but still she wondered why the change of pace. Even more so, she wanted to know what was under the canvas. Curiosity taking over more than a little bit for the girl. As the chuunin finished her warm up, she returned to Nishi and took a brief moment to catch her breath before answering. "Most important thing for a shinobi, ma’am, would be to complete their mission no matter the cost.” Came the girl’s simple reply, as she had always been taught that they were tools of the republic before anything else.


As they were given orders and a question to ponder, Claire began her training for the morning. As her feet traveled the field her mind wondered if there was a right or wrong answer for the question. After her push ups she returned to Nishi right after Yukimi. Listening to the chuunin she couldn’t help but dislike the answer. Though it wasn’t asked to her so she wouldn’t bring up her feelings about it. Looking at the jounin she smiled as she caught her breathe. ”I think for a team to succeed we need to work well together, to have trust and not be afraid to rely on each other. If the team doesn’t work together the mission can fall apart.”


The first to return was Yukimi. Nishi listened to the chuunin’s response and let a pause follow before she would simply nod. There was no indication if Nishi agreed or disagreed with the answer, let alone approve of it. Claire soon followed suit with her answer. Once more the jounin simply nodded. Still sitting on top of the rock, the woman shot a glance at both of the girls. Then she spoke up, looking at Yukimi.

”To complete your mission is vital. But not everything is black and white. Sometimes the mission objective is not as of paramount importance as that of another goal that can be encountered on a mission. Or sometimes your objective is changed mid-mission due to factors. Closing yourself off with a tunnel-vision will lead to failure. Or as the current situation, the sorry excuse of a nation we serve today.” Nishi said, calmly before she would shift her attention on Claire.


”A team that works well together, based on trust and not afraid to rely on each other. Hmm,” Nishi repeated, the emphasis clear on that she wanted the genin to think about her answer.

”Trust is important, it really is. But it is more important on what that trust is based on. You can entrust in general that a jounin is a capable operative. That they can get the job done and at often, able to lead a team of recruits and whatnot at the same time.” A pause followed.

”Trust in competence is what makes a team stand or fall. It can certainly, in a way cause a mission to fail. But there are certainly more factors to that.”


Getting up from the rock, the whetstone as sheathing the blade into its scabbard. Gesturing to the boxes, Nishi would begin explaining what they would be doing as training.

”I got a surprise for each of you. I can’t promise you can get to keep it but it is simply a test before we go on the next mission.”

Moving to the blanket that covered the nearest box, Nishi would reveal it was a bench. Filled with some cats. The animals seemed a bit nervous, almost if they were aware what the jounin was planning.

”It is rather easy. I want you to pick out a cat from this bench. Lift it up by the neck and stab it in the chest. With what? I don’t care. I want you to pick one cat up and stab it. They are stray ones, so won’t likely be missed. Now, come on. ‘Chop, chop’.” The jounin flashed a smile as she gave a kick to the bench, causing the felines to react in a negative fashion.


Yukimi nodded along in agreement more or less with Nishi’s explanation following her answer. Though she felt her answer still applied, as if the mission parameters changed during a mission one was still completing said mission. Not that it mattered much, being correct or not was mere semantics but the point the Jounin was trying to make was clear enough. Her response to Claire’s answer was one that Yukimi found herself wholly in agreement with, a first with this woman the chuunin found.


As the jounin revealed their task, Yukimi raised an eyebrow as she looked towards the filthy little pests. Was this it? If they were strays then killing them wouldn't be an issue, as they'd just be irritating little pests elsewise. Picking up the first cat she saw, one with a black coat and seemingly one of the less scared ones the Chuunin first inspected it for any signs that might have been a pet that simply got loose. Upon seeing that it was indeed a stray, the Chuunin reached into her pouch to produce a kunai and drive it into the cat’s chest with not a single bit of emotion showing.


Listening to the woman reply to their answers she nodded and took note. She knew more factors played in on a mission but that wasn’t part of the question asked. When they were finally told the surprise would be revealed Claire smiled. Looking over the cats her smiled remained and she listened to Nishi once more. Though slowly the smile faded as she was told to stab a cat. Surely it was a joke, and she easily could just poke one with her finger. The jounin didn’t specify they had to kill it, only intended it with her tone. Before she could even choose Yukimi found one and looked it over. And then it was stabbed. The blonde had little to no time to react, to stop her.


”T-they are innocent…” Clenching her fist she glared at the two. ”You have no value for life?! These are different than criminals, people who do something to actually get punished. Actually we didn’t even kill the bandits we captured the other day and they were criminals.” Shaking her head she looked at Nishi. ”I refuse. You can play your twisted little game but when you die I won’t show remorse. People actually go on missions for the good of others. Sure there is corruption and I am sure innocent people have died but they didn’t deserve it.”


Looking at Yukimi she frowned. ”You are just like the nasty stuck up rich people, no care about life. If it's dirty and poor you are willing to disregard its life. You only care about you and you proved it last training and now. You risked my life and just took one. Life is some game to you huh? Do not speak to me again. If you approach me I won’t be nice anymore.” Taking the box and pushing past she didn’t look back as she walked away from the field. It was their job to protect people, these cats were no different to her.


Nishi had taken a step back and observed the two. The first that moved into action was Yukimi. She drove a kunai into the chest of a cat. Earning no word of praise or visible hint of change on the woman’s features. Then Nishi’s attention was drawn to Claire. The genin was anything but happy about the situation and given instructions.

When the genin started her rant, the jounin didn’t utter a word back. Staring at the genin, Nishi just made a mental note. Watching as the genin walked away with one box, the jounin was all too prepared for it. She had imagined that this wouldn’t go easy and that morals would come into play.


”Yukimi, training is over. For you. You are dismissed.” The woman calmly stated. The temptation to let the tags go off and do ‘the job’ herself was big. But Nishi doubted that would help Claire see the situation.

”You know. If you don’t drop that box, I am forced to make it explode. It will be really messy.” Nishi said, still standing where she stood.

”It is grand that you got morals. And you are right. We didn’t kill those bandits. Cause unlike cats, they can row oars in the navy. Know what troubles a large population of stray cats will cause? Diseases that are dangerous to kids and pets. It has been proven that large colonies of stray cats even cause problems to pregnant women working outside. Making them lose their unborn children with the diseases that they spread. Now,” the jounin’s eyes half closed, ”I genuinely don’t care what you think or feel about me. I am not your friend nor supposed to be. You can accuse me for not having the same stuck-up morality as you have. But the way I see it, you can do two things. I don’t care if you call it good or evil. You can either condemn possible innocents and force me to intervene. Or you going to put that box down and try to understand what I am trying to accomplish here.”


Slowly raising her hand, Nishi frowned, her fingers ready to snap.

”If you do value life ‘so much more’ then I suggest you try to listen and understand. Instead of listening to whatever goes through that mind, yelling out against whatever doesn’t seem fluffy or nice.”


Yukimi didn’t flinch as Claire started shouting at them about her sensibilities. Yukimi rolled her eyes as she dropped the kitten’s body to the ground. She was about to say something to the girl when Nishi told her that training was over for her. She gave a polite nod of her head to Nishi as farewell before heading off of the field to go find out why her Aunt had wanted to meet her. She didn't even grace the genin with a sideways glance as she left, deciding it was likely better to let the jounin deal with her.


Claire looked over her shoulder as Nishi spoke. ”And killing off strays is just one solution. When there are many more than that. A person could tend to them, give them homes and thus there would be less stray cats. We never know what can and can't happen. Maybe someone got a disease and spread it themselves. Maybe someone lost a child due to life habits. But simply put you see animal's less than humans. Or am I wrong? Because correct me if I am.” Setting the box down she turned to face the jounin. ”If you are trying to teach us that morals don't count towards the greater good, then why even try? Or is it that all lives aren't equal? What exactly are you trying to tell me by having us kill strays? Because a savage just kills, and does not think. When if you think you can find more solutions to a problem.”


Watching Claire, Nishi considered to just blow the box up. Not out of any malicious intent but just to make sure that the job was done. Placing her attention on the genin, the woman let Claire reply back.

”Oh, I recognise that there are many solutions to a problem. A person could tend to them. We could also raise a public house for them. We could invest into making sure that they don’t cause a ruckus, making a special unit track and keep them ‘clean’, from disease and what not. We won’t know if it will be a benefit but we do know other things,” Nishi calmly replied on her turn, ”That we can’t make a different decision than what the brass has placed upon us. We can’t just be the judges of a situation because the decision of somebody higher up than the team isn’t to our liking. That is the harsh reality, Claire. We aren’t an independent group of some justice heroes. If you make it far enough, you’ll be tasked with all kind of missions you won’t agree with. Killing this or that person. Will you then decide to just go for a stroll and talk to your assigned target?”


Nishi didn’t give much time for the genin to answer the question, instead continuing on.

”Besides that, with options to sustain morality and life, not everything will be grand. I don’t think many families will be happy with a stray animal that can be a hassle on their income. I don’t believe that neither you or I can convince a higher up to rectify the decision and make us release the cats or hold them, keeping them fed till we find a more ‘humane’ solution. Draconian as this solution might be, the decision whether we like it or not? It is up to you to dislike or like it but to go against it? I would be careful with that.” Pausing, the jounin would release a sigh afterwards as she raised her right hand. Scratching the her neck, Nishi tilted her head.

”Look, if we are going to be honest. I don’t give a crap about cats. But I don’t like to take a life either without the right justification. If possible, I rather let a life be untouched than to just end it. But if you can’t see that this has to happen then how can I trust you will not show the same empathy to enemies of the state?”


Listening to Nishi she was actually surprised when the woman spoke about not liking her tasks to take lives. That she preferred to keep life untouched. Yet she had killed before because she was told to do so, that there was little choice in the matter because the people in charge had the final word. ”So this was to test if we would do as we were told? I get you need to see if we will follow orders but why not try to change those in charge? If they are so cruel why not get someone else in the position? If what you said is true and you don’t like killing, why do it all these years? Why push away your own beliefs for those in charge? Sighing Claire looked at Nishi and for once wondered what her story was and why she was a shinobi. ”I have no place to pry but it just doesn’t add up if you ask me. I guess given time we will learn about you but how do you live with going against what you believe? How is it easy to go day by day knowing you can’t be you while working? I won’t simply kill a cat but I guess I shouldn’t try to stop you, or Yukimi if the decision is to kill. It will take time for me to change, to be someone who can live with killing but until then I will try my best to subdue enemies without killing, and no not just chatting to them. Surely capture can be done without death.”


Looking away now and up to the sky she smiled. ”I will do my best to show everyone death is not the only solution. Nishi do you think I could learn how to use poisons to subdue someone, something paralytic? Or techniques to capture someone alive? Glancing back down she looked at the strays. ”As for the suggestion of someone helping the strays stay clean, I will do it. I can even try to make them a sanctuary eventually. I just can’t let them die for the sake of people who can’t think and empathize. I know it's not the ideal answer you wanted but will that do for now? That I will try to be stronger.


”Yes. In a way. If you aren’t to follow the order to dispatch some stray cats, how much can you be trusted to dispatch, let us say, some Akenians?”

Taking a few steps towards the genin, Nishi frowned.

”As change of leadership, are you aware how dangerous those words are? Last time that a change of leadership was attempted, hundreds of people died. Let us not forget the failed attempts before. Changing leadership won’t be without any bloodshed. So if you are keen to take any of my advise, you better speak softly when it is about change and leadership.”

Locking her eyes with Claire, Nishi paused for a good moment. She didn’t blame the young girl too much. She hadn’t seen what war or conflict could bring. Had never been ordered to look and drag the bodies at the aftermath. Or running when defeat was imminent. Death? It seemed that this new generation was not adjusted to its cruel talons, as the previous generation had.


”Besides that. If you want to talk about the moral decisions, you must understand that sometimes there is no other choice. If tomorrow the Empire invades us, are we ought to just throw our weapons down and submit to their rule? Because killing is unpleasant? The world isn’t black and white. Much as freedom is quite contradicting, so too is killing. For it is both good and unpleasant. A lesson you might come to learn in time, if you make it that far. Perhaps that will give you the answer on why I keep doing it.” Nishi further answered.

The jounin did pause when Claire asked if she could learn about herbs and poisons, to subdue an opponent. It caused Nishi to mentally sigh. If anything, the woman wanted to get the task done and not having a talk about morality and avoiding killing with a mere genin.

”You can be indulged into those matters. And I got a few contacts who can provide help. But you will not be able to escape killing a target or enemy with such a decision. Such selfish decisions will cost you or others, more than you imagine now. And more than I am willing to explain at this moment.” The last sentence held a sliver of a threat, as the jounin’s patience was starting to run thin.


”As for the cats? I doubt you earn enough to provide for them. Nor have saved enough wealth to create a sanctuary for them. Regardless for your emotions and beliefs against this harsh decision, they have to go. I will allow you to walk away, so you won’t witness their passing. But that is as far as I can go with sparing them.”


It had seemed they were at a point of just going back and forth. Words exchanged but little point being driven to either person. When she was told she could walk away she nodded. ”Fine I will walk away but it seems we are not on the same page. We don’t trust each other. Maybe eventually we can but for now I honestly am unsure how to feel about this and what you said. If anything it feels cowardice on your part.” How could someone defend death so easily but be against it? Either way it seemed death was imminent and they were playing god, choosing who lives and dies. Just because of orders. Even if they were attacked people would die for stupid reasons, both good and bad in both positions. Turning away she began to leave the field. ”I guess I will see you when you need us sensei. At least make their suffering quick.” Were the last words she spoke.


Now she had to think about all of what Nishi had said, her plans for the future and if she truly could be a shinobi. She thought they were to protect others and she knew death and killing happened. After all that is how her sister passed away. Yet it seemed all was in vain. Who were they really protecting? Innocent civilian lives or a corrupt government, or even other corrupt government of other nations. Surely not everyone was bold enough to see death as the only option to dispute. Aside from rogues and savage outlaws. But they were different than the nations leaders, weren’t they? ”If we were invaded could I really defend others and take lives?” Claire spoke to herself as she walked home. If what Nishi said was true, she had no choice in the matter regardless. It was to kill or be killed. Was she ready to kill? The last mission ended in no death but would the next be the same? Once home she found herself deep in thought about everything. Was she ready?
 

FrostedCaramel

God's in His Heaven, All's Right With the World.
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, A Few Posts a Week
My Usual Online Time
Whenever you're asleep, thanks time zones.
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Mainly passive, can be aggressive if the situation requires such.
Favorite Genres
Sci-Fi, Modern, and Horror.
Long Knife - Part VII Yamada Suzu "Rabbit"| Claw Country, Outskirts of the City of Yakurao
  

Suzu, now mostly recovered and aware of the value that operatives such as the the Zero Team represent to the Empire and the futility of their mission, attempts to convince the Zero Team to leave the Claw Country when she does.

As a continued warning, I am still pursuing some more mature themes, as the world really isn't as nice as many of our characters might seem to think it is.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
  
Suzu had awoken from a fitful slumber into a surprising calm. The small iron stove in the common area crackled and popped in delight as it gleefully went about its duty of heating the duel purpose room that served as both her makeshift hospital ward and arguably foul smelling dining area. With a grunt of exertion Suzu sat herself upright and chanced a glance down at the sheet she had been laying on. The corruption and rot she had expected to greet her curious gaze were wholly absent, instead she was simply staring upon a practically clean white sheet save for the stains that no number of washings would ever remove. Satisfied with her findings she’d move her gaze up and in the direction of the round table that sat on the kitchen side of the room and, more specifically, the person that occupied a place at it.

“Any chance I’m good to leave yet?” she asked Atlas as she gingerly tested her damaged shoulder, moving her arm one way and then the next. Suzu reached out at the open air in front of herself and slowly pulled it back to her chest as a dull ache began to grow and spread like a fire gaining its foothold beneath her flesh.

Atlas stirred from the papers he was furiously writing on and sat back in his chair. He laced his fingers together and rested them over his chest with the pen still clutched neatly between his interwoven fingers. He sighed and seemed to study Suzu for a time before nodding, “I reckon it’s about time we got you and your charge out of this God forsaken land.” he said as he picked up a cup of something warm and sipped at it, ”Eros can arrange it this time around, I’ve too much to take care of right now.”

Suzu was about to say that that sounded good before she hesitated, repeating the words of Atlas in her mind, “Too much to do right now?” she said aloud before actually turning to speak to Atlas again, “Your team is down to two strong, strung out and weary… Even before losing Aeon and Nyx.” she shook her head at Atlas and for the first time in years felt sadness welling in her chest, “And still… You won’t come with me?” she asked as she placed her hands on the couch and leaned herself slightly forward toward Atlas. There was a long pause as unease fell over the room from Suzu’s question. She sat where she was on the couch, watching Atlas as he seemed to slowly move through some sort of a complex problem in his mind from the way his brow furrowed and the thoughtful glint of his eyes, she noticed how for a moment a bit of youth seemed to fill his features and briefly she held out hope he might give in.

Atlas sighed and his true age showed for the second time since she’d met him as the deep age lines of his face became visible and a pain filled his eyes, ”It’s not that easy Rabbit.” he said as he turned to get back to whatever he was penning to the papers on the table, ”We can’t just simply up and leave.” he said as he wrote.

Suzu felt something in her rising as she listened to him, and the sadness that had been welling in her chest was beginning to reach its ice cold fingers further around her body as Atlas spoke. “What do you mean you can’t up and leave?” she asked in confusion, “You can it’s as simple as getting up and leaving with me when I do.”

Atlas stirred slightly as she spoke but continued with his writing as he waved his free hand in her direction, ”This is our mission, we can’t abandon it, what would the Crown do if she found out we up and left this?” he stated as if the mentioning of the Empress would quell Suzu’s insistence.

Suzu shook her head and felt as if she were fighting an unwinnable battle with the far older Atlas, “You can abandon it, I’ll include it all in my official reporting. Everything that happened here, the conditions you’ve all been through, what happened when I arrived, I’ll take blame if I have to if it means getting Eros and you out of here.” Suzu shifted in her spot, the ice cold sadness mingling with the dread now as she watched Atlas shake his head in a small show of disgust at the suggestion.

”We’d be traitors. Abandoning our mission so easily.” Atlas said, though his tone almost seemed to say he was trying to convince himself of his own words.

Suzu bit her tongue and tasted the iron underbite of blood as she sprang up from her spot on the couch, her head became light from the sudden shift in position and she threatened to topple over just a moment after standing but instead she steadied her breathing and focused on Atlas in front of her. With an unsteady step and then another she quickly crossed the room to stand at the edge of the table where Atlas was now gawking at her as if she were some sort of a circus freak or exotic art piece. She leaned forward to place her hands on the table and steady herself as she cocked her head to the side and tried to let the anger that had taken ahold of her simmer.

“You’re all loyal servants Atlas. Loyal but weary.” she stated, “Loyal but weary.” she repeated again, “You can’t go on like this. Not Eros, not you.” she shook her head and clawed a piece of paper up from the table to read it. A well laid out letter detailing troop movements and dispositions in and around the city of Yakurao, a small Imperial symbol penned into the bottom and what she could only imagine was the Zero Teams symbol to validate the information when it reached the Empire.

“You’re sending back information?” she thought aloud as she then moved her gaze over the entire table. Her eyes went wide as she realized the shear number of papers strewn in front of Atlas in small neatly organized piles or simple loose about the wood, “You’re sending back everything...” Suzu said quieter as Atlas turned his gaze to her with a look of frustration in his eyes.

”Yes everything. You’re our best chance to get it all back, so we’re sending it with you.” he stated with a sigh before getting back to his work.

Suzu turned her head farther, “You’re two men!” she began to yell at Atlas from the otherside of the table, “You’ve lost three team members in the span of what? A month?” she shook her head in disbelief as she gazed over the amount of information Atlas was transcribing, “You’ve been here for years! Years Atlas! You can come home now, no one will think bad of you!” she pleaded with him as she felt the pain in her shoulder rising and watched as Atlas stopped his writing to watch her lose it in front of him. She took a deep breath and leaned back to stand fully upright before she straightened out the shirt she was wearing and quickly calmed herself down, “You’ve finished your mission, no matter what you think. It’s over Atlas, your team is ineffective as it stands. Too small to properly carry out your tasks, and compromised as far as we know. Aeon was captured too, you know this, he could have given you up, or they could have searched his mind if he didn’t. Your mission is over.” she spoke softly before turning and hobbling her way to the door that led out into the hallway, not waiting for an answer from Atlas.

Stepping through the door and into the hall she’d be almost instantly met by the presence of Eros who was leaned against the wall just a meter from the door. His scarred face was cast in shadow as he watched her exit before he shook his head and spoke, ”He’ll never give in.” he said simply before shrugging, ”But if it counts for anything, I agree with you. We shouldn’t be here. Not anymore, and we should leave with you.”

Suzu let the door shut quietly behind her as Eros spoke and leaned back into it for support as she listened. There was a sense of some sort of success, a sort of satisfaction or validation that she hadn’t just lost her calm for no reason in front of the senior member of the Zero Team but it was for the most part overshadowed by the fact even Eros could see a useless attempt at convincing Atlas to reconsider his option in what she was doing. “There has to be a way.” she said as she leaned her head back against the door and found herself staring at the ceiling, “Zero Teams are valuable assets. We can’t have you self destructing out here like Nyx or dying for nothing like Apate in a riot.” she said at a whisper as she studied the grain of the wood above her.

She could hear Eros moving but she didn’t turn to look at him as he did, instead she noticed that he had gotten closer the next time he spoke. “Or Aeon. He died for nothing too as far as I’m concerned.” he said unapologetically. Suzu felt a small sense of guilt within her, as if the capture of Aeon were her fault and not Nyx’s, as if she could have somehow saved their team member when she made her own escape from the soldiers detention.

“I don’t think I could have saved him.” she admitted before bringing her gaze back down to Eros who had moved to be directly across the hall from her, “They had different plans for me. Had put me out for some fun.” she said as she shook her head, “They probably got rid of Aeon long before I’d even managed to begin my escape.” it was a tough thing to admit, but she felt it was probably right, had she not been a woman she’d likely be laying in the same shallow grave as Aeon was right now.

Eros seemed to think on what Suzu said and appeared even to possibly change his view on the Sworn Sword at her words, “I doubt any amount of effort from you in your condition would have done any good, if anything it would have just meant losing you on top of Aeon.” he said as he sighed deeply and shook his head, ”We really do need to get out of here don’t we?” he said rhetorically before pushing himself from the wall and motioning for Suzu to follow him as he opened the door to the room back to Atlas.

There was a tense electricity in the air as they entered and Atlas instantly stopped his writing to look up at them both. She watched as he calmly gathered his papers into a neat pile and place his pen down next to them with the practiced movements of a trained killer readying their weapons of choice. “Don’t you fucking dare side with her Eros.” Atlas said as he took a calm sip from his cup and placed it back on the table.

Eros hesitated at the words, the split second tug of war in his mind over whether or not that was the simple and quick end to all of this evident as he steeled himself and shrugged, “It’s over Atlas, Rabbit is right.” he stayed where was in the middle of the room and motioned to Suzu with a hand, “We leave with her and we’ll be doing a far greater service to the nation than if we simply send her back with information…” he paused a moment and took a breath as he seemed to loathe going against his team leader.

Atlas raised an eyebrow and then let out a mirthless laugh as he motioned to Suzu, “I told her already it’s not that simple, we can’t just leave. We have to stay, to continue this fight, we need to keep up our work for the liberation.” he stated as a small wild light began to take its hold in his eyes.

Suzu still couldn’t quite believe it but she knew she at least owed them a way out of the hell they’d been so willingly left in by their country, “The liberation will come I’m sure Atlas--”

“You shut your fucking mouth, you ungrateful shit.” Atlas said as he stood and knocked over his chair in the process, “What do you really know about this place? What do you really know about the liberation? If we leave it may as well never come! You realize we’re the only hope most of the people here have? The whispers of us alone are enough to fuel the Resistance factions, they’re enough to keep them fighting against the impossible odds that claimed three highly skilled operatives and nearly a fourth!”

Suzu felt a flash of rage and had to remind herself that she couldn’t do anything as rash as trying to overtake him with a genjutsu, “I don’t know Atlas, but it will come.” she lied, “But you said it yourself, it’s claimed three highly skilled operatives of the Empire… Think of what the nation just lost! That’s experience and skill in all sorts of fields that will take a decades to get back even partially, we lost enough during the fighting against Shoji, lost too many experienced operatives and skilled warriors to gain back the soul of our nation. You’re a goddamn spymaster as far as I’ve been able to figure, the kind of fucker that always knows where I am but I can never figure out where the hell they are or how they even know what they do about me! You think that losing someone like you wouldn't be felt by the Empire? How many spymasters do you think we have left? Or do you believe the propaganda we spread to trick our neighbors that we came out barely scratched from Shoji? Do you think that wouldn’t be a failure? Surely not… and yet here you are...” she paused and raised her arm to point a finger at him grimacing through the pain from her shoulder.

“We can’t afford to simply throw more operatives away like you’re so willingly about to do for a foreign nation! A nation that’s already lost! No matter what you do here this nation is at its end! Circling the drain as we sit here and argue the finer points of you staying to die with it!” she dropped her hand and reached out to Eros to keep herself standing as her head began to swim.

“The Claw is done Atlas.” Eros said quietly as he held up Suzu, “A corpse of a nation gasping in it’s last gulps of air as it shudders and ceases for good. We can’t stop that… But if we head back? We can stop this from happening in other nations, convince those above us of the importance of the Claw and how badly it needs to be liberated. Our firsthand accounts will be worth far more than your fucking paper.”

Suzu leaned on Eros as she waited for an answer from Atlas as he seemed to stand and mull over the words of the two in front of him. He waved a dismissive hand at them both, “Go pack your stuff Eros,” Atlas said as he turned to get back to his writing before stopping and turning back slightly, “Mine too.”
 

Oetje

Stormraven
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays
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One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
My Usual Online Time
Really sporadic. My schedule is somewhat of a mess at times.
Writing Levels
Intermediate
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I can go with both. I am rather flexible.
Favorite Genres
I like a lot of genres such as magical, modern, fantasy. Anything with an interesting plot.
Genre You DON'T Like
Anything that is too focused on something that I don't feel too comfortable with. Such as furry.
A choice being made - In the North, part 1
Lightning Country,
The Hojo Clan.

A post regarding the Hojo clan's stance towards the Regency Council and its demands. A post that will give insight on what the Hojo will do in return to the demands of the Council.



  

The sounds of a dozen men marching, together with the jingling of chainmail and the faint squeaking of leather, combined with the clanging of their armour. The sounds that heralded their approach would come to a sudden halt as they approached their positions near to a door. Only briefly did the armour resonate again, as the armoured guards moved aside as a man strode forward. The high quality as the symbol on the back of the robes giving away his importance. The lord of the Hojo clan.
Passing the twelve handpicked guards, the doors would be opened by two servants. Giving way to a spacious room where many decorations resided at the side of the room. Paintings of glorious battles fought by the heroes that preserved the name as the honour of the Hojo. Armour of those heroes, weapons taken from terrible foes and mementoes of long past important events.

In the middle of this room, a table would be present. At the sides, men would rise from their chairs and perform a deep bow towards the approaching man. They would remain in the deep bow until the man, Mareo Hojo, would sit and tell them that they could stand down on the soft pillows.

"Sit."

The polite voiced command was followed in unison by the other men. Silently, they all had their gazes fixed at their lord, that sat at the head of the table.
Slowly, Maero would place his elbows on the table, his hands intertwining as he leaned slightly forward. His sharp gaze moved over the present men as he allowed the silence to plague the room for a bit longer.

"We all have heard of the demise of the late daimyo. We all know of this so-called Regency council. I have summoned you today because the Regency council has put forth various demands that collide with our privileges. I have requested the Regency council with a letter in response to reconsider their demands. That the Hojo clan is faithful to the crown. But that the Crown must honour the clan's rights. For without the order being in place, we will be subjects to arbitrary demands made. This time, these unreasonable requests are made by lesser men."

Finishing, Maero would let the previous silence follow his words. His eyes narrowed slightly.
"Now, I want to know what each of you proposes."

The first to speak was nobody other than the heir of the clan, Setsu Hojo. There were already various signs that the man was passing his prime. Yet, there was a certain strength and pride present as he spoke up.

"My lord, I say that we ready ourselves for a confrontation. We are oath-bound to serve the crown and the best interest of the nation. We are the most honourable as the prestigious clan of the north. As such, the other and lesser clans look up to us. If we would go against the demands of the Regency Council and raise arms, we could be portrayed as mere rebels. But if we would spread the word of the unreasonable demands of the Regency Council, we would have a just cause. A just cause to rally all our banners and make certain that our rivals can't paint us as what we aren't. For a weak Hojo clan will be unable to defend the nation."

Several other men at the table subtly as silently made it clear that they agreed, slightly nodding. Some formed a fist with their right hand and very gently bounced it on the table a few times to audibly agree with Setsu.
As the heir of the clan sat down, another man rose up. The various scars adoring the man's arms and neck weren't hidden. Making a bow towards Maero, it was Tanuichi of the Maekawa clan. The younger brother of Lord Maekawa, nicked as the Red Samurai - a monniker earned due to his stark red garb and armour.

'"Lord Hojo. If I may be so bold." The man first requested, his soft and raspy voice filling the hall. Maero made a subtle gesture with his right hand, allowing Taniuchi to speak his mind.
'"I think it would be best for the clan to give an air of agreement with the Regency Council. Friction is visibly building up between those loyal to the Raikage and those under the command of the Regency Council. We are all oath-bound to serve the daimyo. Not the lesser people that are made from this council. I believe it isn't against our oath to disobey this Council. But if we would lure them into a sense of comfort, thinking that the Hojo are faithful to them, then we can work from within to disrupt their ranks. Learn what they know of our rivals and then make that knowledge of our own."
 

conman2163

Long live Carolus Rex...
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Chat Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
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Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day
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8:00 a.m. - 10 p.m.
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Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
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Male, Female, Primarily Prefer Male
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Generally both. Better make sure I know who is leading and who is following though.
Favorite Genres
Pretty much all of them
Genre You DON'T Like
Yaoi
Omari Celebration

Akinian Empire, Amegakure
A collaboration between Conman and Chrome

Summary: Following his arrival back in the Rain province, Chu hosts a celebration in Amegakure at which all his new vassal clans will officially swear loyalty to his clan. Ferra shows up late, and a conversation ensues between the old student and teacher.


  
Chu sat at his table at the party, and gazed around. The night’s festivities had begun. Only a few clans had not yet appeared, the smaller clans of the Rain province, the Riojin being one, and another being, unfortunately, the Arkos. Chu drummed his fingers on the table top and gazed around in slight annoyance. Next to him sat the woman from the Ogami. His betrothed. She was quite beautiful, but also shy, and he neglected to speak to her in his annoyance with the situation. He had hoped that despite her distaste for such formal occasions, she might appear.

She was going to kill them… Fidgeting with the dress for the hundredth time, Ferra’s scowl was painted on her face. A feast? Bah! Her kind of feast was all you can eat and drink with nobody worrying about what in the hell you were wearing. These formal events were the last thing she ever wanted to get stuck in. Especially when she was supposed to act as a representative of her clan. This meant she had to play nice, despite her inclination to do otherwise.

The carriage came to a stop and Ferra took a deep breath. From here on out she would have to fake the smiles and pleasantries with the other representatives. Pulling her flask out from the sheath hidden on her leg, Ferra took a deep swig. At least she would have some assistance…

Replacing the flask under the dress, Ferra stood and exited. Stepping out she eyed the large tent warily. It looked like it could hold a large number of people but perhaps, if she was lucky, it might be emptier than she feared. Striding towards the entrance, mustering as much grace as she was able, Ferra caught sight of several people looking her way. A flush of embarrassment crept upon her face but she continued, entering the tent. The breath caught in her throat as she realized all of the other guests had already arrived. The place was just as busy as she had feared and Ferra had to fight the urge to turn on her heels and walk right back out the way she had come. Remembering the words from her family, however, Ferra gritted her teeth and continued, looking for a free spot.

Her eyes caught sight of a large table in the corner, with her student and a few others seated around. There was a spot at that table and Ferra hesitated. Please no… she cursed inwardly. Making her way to the table in the corner, Ferra nodded her head towards Chu in a gesture of respect. "The Arkos clan would like to thank you for your invitation." Glancing behind her, Ferra shrugged before turning back. "It would appear our sense of timing was off ever so slightly, however."

Chu continued to be annoyed right up until the point that Ferra had arrived at the tent. At once his fingers ceased drumming, and he nodded as she approached. He waited for her to finish and then a smile broke on his face. ”It seems that we are both subject to a danger of another kind tonight Ferra.” He said, skipping over the formalities. ”I’m afraid that tonight we’ll have to endure quite a bit of stuffiness on account of my actions.” He continued, then indicated to a chair across from him. ”I was afraid you weren’t coming.”

A brief smile touched her lips and Ferra nodded. "Well, I’d be lying if I said this was my cup of tea." Taking her seat across from Chu, Ferra glanced around the room for another moment, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly before turning back to her student. "Please tell me you are at least serving alcohol at this thing?"

Chu laughed. ”Of course, of course.” He signalled to one of the men walking around with drinks. The man approached and offered Ferra one of the many varieties of alcohol that they were serving. ”Afterall, I wouldn’t want my teacher to have an issue finding something to drink, would I?” Chu drew a small box out from a pocket within the jacket he was wearing, and placed it in front of Ferra. ”Here, I figure you might appreciate this. It’s something my smiths put together.” Inside was a steel bangle, wrought with silver and gold inlay to form the insignia of the Arkos clan. On it was also several gems. They were a deep blue color, polished and ground smooth. The gems seemed to suck in light around it.

Nodding her thanks towards Chu, Ferra studied the drinks that were offered before making her selection. Taking a second drink from the tray before the server left, Ferra watched as the man gave her a peculiar look before continuing on his way. Taking a long sip of the drink, the Jounin let out a brief sigh. It was flavourful, that much was certain, but the alcohol content in her first choice was not quite as high. A shame… Glancing at the second drink she was about to take a sip from it before Chu presented her with a small box. Pausing, Ferra raised her eyebrow. She stared at the box for a long moment, her eyes narrowing. "What is this?" she asked suspiciously. Without waiting for a response, Ferra slowly opened the lid and peered inside. Taking a moment to study the beautifully crafted piece of jewelry, the Jounin’s expression shifted into a frown. "I can’t accept this Chu." she said after a brief pause, looking back towards her student.

Chu tapped the table and stared for a moment at Ferra. "The jewels store chakra, so long as they are connected to your body." He said bluntly. "It's a gift from one clan head to another, not from a student to a master. I went through a lot of trouble to procure this particular item. It's a new mineral discovered in my lands, and there are but six examples that have been refined. The first and second are gifts for the Empress. The third is right here." He tapped one of the jewels that was embedded in a ring on his right hand. "And the three you have in that bangle there." He pointed to the three gems on the bangle. "With time and practice, you can store and retrieve chakra from these gems. This isn't a piece of jewelry, it's a decorated weapon." He finished simply.

Chu’s explanation did little to alleviate Ferra’s concerns. Especially not when she found out there were only six of the gems in existence and she had just been given more of them than the Empress had received… What did he want…? Ferra could not deny that it was incredible gift. However, she still wasn’t comfortable with it. "And what makes the Arkos clan so special?" she asked after a moment, raising an eyebrow and downing the second drink, never taking her eyes off Chu.
”Well, since I doubt I could convince you to join the little federation of clans I have put together, there is something else I wanted.” He drummed his fingers on the table. ”I am putting together a chakra corp for my clan. Members of my clan who can use jutsu, but have no formal training in using it in combat. My hope would be that you might lend your expertise, drilling them in the different forms of fighting that occur for a soldier on the battlefield. I’d do it myself, but since I have less experience, and my goal is to improve relations between our clans, I thought I might ask you.”

There it was… Everything came with a price.

Closing the box, Ferra folded her arms across her chest and leaned back, listening as Chu began his pitch. While the request itself was not an unreasonable one by any means, Ferra was still felt a sense of unease. When Chu had finished, the Jounin pressed her hands together, steepling her fingers. "And what is to stop these newly trained soldiers from invading our land and forcing us to join your new federation, hmm?" When she had asked her question, Ferra raised one hand, signaling to the server to bring her another round.

Chu’s look turned hard for a moment, a flash of anger touching his face. ”For the sake of what we have already been through as a team, I will assume you do not mean to insult my honor by insinuating that I would perpetuate such a vile act against someone I consider a comrade.” He finished the sentence in a short, biting tone, then continued in a nicer, more polite tone. ”You and I both know two things. First, I would never do that to you of all people. I respect you as a fellow shinobi and my teacher, thus I would never seek to hurt your people or your clan in any way. Second, if I had wanted to take a clan’s allegiance by force, the Omari would have done it by now. For good measure, the Imperial laws themselves prevent such open acts of warfare.” He drummed his fingers on the table. ”Another way to look at it is thus. Meaning no offense, there is not much we would gain from taking the Arkos clan in the first place. Every clan that has joined thus far has something I need. The Uyeno control the lumber resources of the region, the Maeno and the Teshima control the borders, the Ogami have secured my control over trade routes in and out of the city for other clans. There is, simply put, nothing that I would so desperately wish to take from the Arkos that I would invade them. Neither would it be worth the ensuing political and criminal fallout.”

Seemed she had struck a chord. In any other circumstance, Ferra would have enjoyed this, pushed it further even. This time, however, she would show restraint. Clan politics were not really something she enjoyed. Her family had tried to teach her the finer elements of it, but Ferra had always been more of a blunt instrument. Chu was her student and someone that she held a certain amount of respect for. Pushing him for no other reason than to satisfy her own amusement was not something she saw any value in. Still, the boy’s tone caused her temper to flare ever so slightly. She showed no outward sign, however, yet it was still a relief when the server brought her another drink. Taking a long sip, she eyed Chu for a moment, formulating her response carefully. "You should know that I care little for honor. It does not really serve one well on the battlefield. However, if my comment insulted your honor in any way, then I suppose I owe you an apology." Tilting her head to the side, Ferra offered a slight smile. "I have to look out for my people and trust tends to be overrated these days. We have been through quite a bit together. That tends to help forge a certain trust between individuals. It would be foolish of me not to ask, however, and so I simply had to check."

Taking another swig from her glass, Ferra remained silent for a moment. Chu’s comments on her clan certainly rubbed her the wrong way and showed that the boy still possessed a certain arrogance that young clan leaders tended to have. She knew him well enough to trust he meant no harm by the words, but it caused her some thought nevertheless. This was not the format to address it in, however, and so she would leave it. For now. "So how many members do you have in this corps of yours?"

Chu did not respond immediately to her question, instead choosing to remain silent longer then Ferra had obviously intended. ”I have around twenty five clan members who can use chakra and then seventy five supporting soldiers to defend them in combat. It isn’t much of a corp, but it is better than nothing. Most of those that could have been drawn out for it joined the shinobi corp.” He tilted his head to the side. His response was almost absent minded sounding, as if he was now thinking of something other then the need to find an appropriately experienced trainer for his new clansmen. In truth, he was now considering finding someone else to train his troops. Perhaps someone within this new federation of clans he had built. He did not want to have to contend with someone who would be suspicious of his every move. In fact, he wondered if there had been a shift in their relationship now. Clearly, if Ferra believed that he might make a move on her clan, she would be more distant and cautious in her dealings with him. While normally he might have basked in the wariness of another clan leader, as it meant they were taking him seriously. In this case however, it made him feel uncomfortable.

Nodding, Ferra chose to ignore Chu’s shift in attitude. Her comment had obviously bothered him, but it was not something she could change. It was also not something she would apologize for. She trusted the boy, but that did not mean she trusted the clan. Nor did she trust the politics around the clan. The Omari’s rapid… expansion… had caused many to grow nervous. While it had not really concerned Ferra, she needed to gauge Chu’s reaction in order to determine whether or not he held any ill intent. His reaction had said enough. "That is not exactly small, all things considered." she began, "A hundred skilled troops can best a force ten times their size with the right training and planning." Taking another sip from her drink, Ferra studied it for a moment before setting it down and turning her eyes to Chu. "If you want me to train your men, I have two conditions. One, it does not interfere with our training. Two, I would like to have a small detachment of my clan’s forces train alongside your corps. If you are looking to establish a stronger bond between our clans, it is important that we learn to fight together. For the Arkos, showing another how we fight is an incredible display of trust. Are those conditions acceptable to you?"
Chu listened quietly until she finished speaking. It was true, having a detachment of the Arkos train the same way the Omari would could create a sense of trust among the two clans. Plus the men that were training together would, in truth, form a certain bond that is found amongst men who learn to properly battle together. ”That would be most acceptable, however, I have a further condition.” Chu lightly circled the gem that was on his ring. ”I believe, in the interest of comradeship, we should establish a yearly joint training exercise between our two clans. If showing one another how we fight is an incredible display of trust, this would serve to prove that trust, and to assist each other in continuous improvement in the training of our forces.” He let his gaze meet hers. Whatever the purpose of this request, it did not show in his face, or voice.

A slight smile touched her face as Chu mentioned that he had another condition. Listening closely, Ferra took a long sip from her drink. Setting down the glass, Ferra’s smile turned to a grin. "If you’re talking about a friendly spar between our clans, then I smell an opportunity for a friendly wager." Raising a single eyebrow, Ferra tilted her head to the side. "Assuming you are not opposed to such a bet?"

He smiled in turn to Ferra’s response. ”Oh? A challenge? Friendly wager indeed, well then, out with it, what shall we be betting, and what over?” He questioned, genuinely curious to know the answer.

Shrugging, Ferra leaned back in her chair, the grin still on her face. "Well, that entirely depends on the contest and what you are willing to wager." Folding her arms across her chest, Ferra continued, "I can see this becoming an annual event of sorts. We could have a tournament or a friendly spar between the clans. This gives us the opportunity to show what each side has learned, but we can also use the opportunity to increase clan relations by making it a more festive event that people can attend."

He nodded thoughtfully. ”Such an event and contest would be great fun, for all involved. I agree, this would be good if it were to be done annually. A contest of arms then of course. A tournament and then a practice field battle. The victor of the majority of the events wins the wager.” He drummed his fingers on the table thoughtfully. ”Now, the only question is what to bet…..” He looked at Ferra. ”Any ideas?”

Pondering, Ferra chewed her lower lip thoughtfully. "Well, the main components of a good wager are either for some form of personal gain, or some way of embarrassing the others in the wager." Raising her eyebrow again, her voice took on a slight teasing tone. "So what do you prefer? Embarrassment or personal gain?"

He laughed, and his eyebrow raised. ”Personal embarrassment it is then. We both have a decent amount of wealth at our disposal, so we don’t really need that form of a wager. No, embarrassment will do just fine. What do you have in mind?” He asked, tilting his head to the side.

"How do you feel about tattoos?" Ferra asked after a pause, tilting her head to the side. She watched the Omari closely, looking for his reaction. A part of her doubted that the boy would be open to something as permanent as a tattoo, but it never hurt to ask.

”Oh? A tattoo? Alright, what did you have in mind?” He asked, curious now. While he would not go for something embarrassing being painted permanently on his body, he would consider something sensible.

"Tattoos are a good way to permanently embarrass your opponent. Buuuuut," Ferra leaned back slightly and sighed. "If you prefer something a little less permanent, I am open to ideas."

”Well, if this is an annual, then how about a tattoo that is a tally? One mark for every loss. Simple, but a way of keeping score.” Chu smiled and offered the suggestion with a grin.

Pondering for a moment, Ferra finally nodded, extending her hand. "You’re going to end up with a lot of new marks on your body after this," the Jounin grinned, "but you’ve got yourself a deal."

Chu accepted the handshake. ”Perhaps I will, perhaps I won’t. Of course, it is good to remember that it will depend on the martial skill of our fellow clansmen and women, not so much our own skill.” Chu lifted his glass up after he was finished with the shake. ”Well then a toast to our new agreement, and to the future comradery of our two clans?”

With a cocky grin, Ferra raised her glass. "Well, we can’t discount who’s been training them now, can we?" Clinking her glass against Chu’s, she downed the rest of her drink. "To the future," Ferra said, the grin still on her face.

”Well Ferra, if they all fight like you, it will most certainly be an interesting battle, to say the least.” Chu drank from his glass, then lowered it back to the table, looking around for a moment. ”Hmm…. Truth be told Ferra, these clans are like a pack of wolves. I am interested in making sure that we all can contribute to the Empire, so that we aren’t so easily discounted as a group, but instead these clans are like a pack of wolves, they were perfectly content with what they had, and then I went and stuck my foot in their den. It will be like training a pack of puppies perfectly content with sucking from the teat. Eventually though, the clans of the Rain will become formidable because of it.” He drummed his fingers on the table and glanced towards the entrance. ”Well then, it appears that the Riojin intend to insult the Omari. Not even a delegate for the celebration, nor even a reply. That is fine, but it is most definitely something I will remember.” Chu leaned forward on his hands. He looked to Ferra. ”Tell me Ferra, if you were in my position, and such a clan insulted you, what might you do?”

"Well I suppose that depends," she said after a pause, her finger circling around the rim of her glass. "Did you have some sort of agreement with them, or was it simply an invitation that they ignored?" Removing her hand from the glass, Ferra scratched her chin idly. ”Personally I don’t care too much about others ignoring me, as I am sure you are aware. Insults however, those I tend to to treat less favourably." Shrugging, she looked at Chu. "Can’t say I’ve ever had a clan insult me though. Not entirely my area of expertise I’m afraid."

Chu chuckled. Perhaps it was a simple as just an ignored invitation, but this was not a situation that any clans could ignore. ”Look around you Ferra,” He pointed to the tables behind her, and the lords sitting at each of them. ”In attendance tonight is every lord and lady from the clans of this province. No one except the Riojin ignored the invitation. No doubt they are wary of the rapid expansion of my clan.” He shook his head. ”No, it is because of this that they must have ignored my invitation. I would not be slighted if they had sent a reply. But it is simply common courtesy that you send a reply back. Instead I received nothing in response. It is as good as saying that the Omari are not worth the time of day.” He leaned backwards, stretching for a moment. ”Not that it matters, if they wish to act like children, they will be treated like children. The changes I will make in this province are far from over after all.” The time had come, it was now that Chu would make the unification of the clans official, as vassals under the Omari. A table had been placed at the back of the long tent, visible to all. It was made of a red wood, a simple desk with thick legs and surface, yet age was shown on the wood, countless decades of time spent as a silent servant, a special table. On it lay a document and a quill and ink. It was time to solidify his power for the time being. He walked over to the table, and stroked the wood of the table, staring down at it for a moment, before placing a hand on it and facing out towards the rest of the tent. Those inside had fallen silent. When he spoke, his voice rang throughout the tent. ”Two hundred years ago, my ancestor came to this land. He came here, and settled in the fertile lands that were to become the Omari farms and over the course of four years, he created the beginnings of what is the current Omari compound.” He looked to each of the lords. ”In it, he placed this table. Something carved by his own hands. A table that has stood the test of time. Like the Omari.” He patted the table affectionately, and leaned against it. ”Much like my ancestor did with the Omari two hundred years ago, tonight, we will forge an agreement that will stand the test of time. Tonight many clans of the Rain province will unite together to form a great power in the Rain province. A power that will not be looked down upon by those clans in the East. A power that our sons and daughters can take pride in. Tonight we will make history.” Chu made a small hand signal, one apparently the lord of Uyeno, Maeno, Teshima, Sueno, and Ogami were waiting for. The men stood and came to stand in front of Chu, before kneeling. They swore an oath of fealty, pledging their loyalty and the loyalty of their clans to the Omari. In turn Chu swore an oath to them, swearing to protect and uphold their rights as clan leaders, to lead them to prosperity. When they were finished, the lords each moved over to the table and signed the document on the table. That done, Chu bowed to them all. ”It was my pleasure to host you all this evening, and I thank you all for coming. Please, enjoy the rest of this evening festivities, the celebration is not yet over.” With that, Chu made his way back to the table with Ferra and his fiancee, taking his seat again. He nodded to the woman beside him. His mood seemed quite improved. ” I apologize. Introductions were in order, and I have completely forgotten them! Ferra, this is Renee Ogami, my wife to be.” Renee nodded her head to the woman. ”It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady Arkos.” The woman said, bowing her head.

Watching as Chu made his speech, Ferra ordered another drink. It was clear that this was a proud moment for her student and was not something that she wanted to take away from. Ferra sipped at her drink slowly while the oath swearing proceeded. She was beginning to feel the effects of the alcohol, but refused to let anyone see. When Chu returned to the table, she nodded at him. Turning to the woman that Chu had finally introduced her to, Ferra offered a polite smile. "Nice to meet you as well Lady Ogami." Shifting her gaze back towards her student, Ferra raised one eyebrow slightly. "So when are you two getting married, hmm?"

He chuckled a little at the question, and then smiled. ”It will be in a few months. I must travel to the capitol before I can spend time to plan another ceremony. I promised the Empress I would.” Renee’s face showed a little shock at the revelation, since she had not been privy to exactly where he was going. Chu’s face did not shift at Renee’s surprise. ”I also have some business I must attend to while I am there. It’ll likely be a full two or three months before I will have returned.” He seemed to be working it out in his head, and then nodded. ”So three months time.”

Sitting back in her chair as she listened to Chu speak, Ferra caught the momentary surprise on Renee’s face as the boy mentioned that he had business to attend to with the Empress. It was clear that they were not quite at the stage of telling each other everything, but that was common in arranged marriages. While she was mildly curious as to what that business might be, Ferra showed no sign of it and simply smiled when Chu finished. "That is exciting news indeed." Lifting her glass slightly in a toast, Ferra’s voice took on a teasing tone. "I trust I’ll be invited to your upcoming nuptials?"

Chu chuckled at the idea of him not inviting her to the nuptials. That would be quite the insult to so boldly lay upon her, particularly to someone he worked with on a regular basis. ”I wouldn’t dare forget you Ferra, you’ll be the first to hear of it.” He raised his own glass in response to the toast, then brought the drink to his lips.

"Excellent," Ferra grinned, "Else I would have to crash the wedding. Fun as that might be, I don’t know that it would be overly appreciated." Taking a sip from her own drink Ferra set the glass down and glanced around the room once more, curious as to what the rest of the night would bring.
 

conman2163

Long live Carolus Rex...
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Chat Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
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Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day
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Generally both. Better make sure I know who is leading and who is following though.
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Pretty much all of them
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Yaoi
Omari Celebration pt.II

Akinian Empire, Amegakure
A very short collaboration between Conman and Sketching

Summary: Following his arrival back in the Rain province, Chu hosts a celebration in Amegakure at which all his new vassal clans will officially swear loyalty to his clan. During the meeting he comes in contact with none other then the Amekage, eager to make sure Chu does not look to cause trouble.


  
Chu walked around the feast inside the large tent, all the tables having been removed, as the eating was done. Now the guests mingled and talked while servants walked about giving drinks to guests and gathering empty glasses. Thus Chu wondered, greeting politely any who came in his path and asking after those he knew politely. He had a glass of water in one hand, his drink of choice for the evening, and without saying he was looking for some of his more important guests to speak with him.

”This is a wonderful evening you’ve organized, Lord Omari.” The woman’s voice echoed from just behind the young lord. ”It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

Chu spun on his heel and faced the woman that stood behind him, inclining his head as he did so. ”I thank you for the compliment, Lady….?” He asked, waiting for the woman to finish his sentence. He had not met this person before, her face was new to him. ”But I insist the pleasure is all mine.”

”Chika Suzuhara, at your service,” she said, giving a small, courteous bow. The woman’s features became clearer as she stood back up straight, revealing a face riddled with freckles with two emerald eyes glowing below the orange hair.

”Chu Omari at yours, Lady Suzuhara.” He gave a bow in turn to the woman. ”I was unsure whether you would attend, I must confess. I know that clan politics are a terribly boring affair.” He replied. ”Is there something perhaps that I could help you with?” He questioned, curious to learn the purpose of the visit.

”Moving forward, I only hope to work toward bettering the state of our people," she said with a smile. ”I can’t do that without the help of our… community leaders, now, can I, Lord Omari?" There was an vaguely mischievous air about her as she spoke, even though neither her tone nor her face hinted anything of such a nature.

He nodded with a smile, understanding her implication. ”Well then, I imagine we will be working together towards the same goal. It is my intention that the community I lead to grow. And since i’ll be increasing my involvement in the community in such a way, it’ll be more and more important that we…. cooperate with each other.” Chu did not work to hide his tone or facial expression, he did not need to.

"Wonderful!" she beamed amicably. "I look forward to working with you, Lord Omari. Here’s to the people, then."

”To the people indeed.” He replied, raising his glass in a small toast. He studied the woman for a moment, wonder what her aim might be. He sincerely hoped that she didn’t plan to interfere, that would be an annoyance he did not wish to contend with at the moment.
 

Gerontis

"Teddy Bears never forget."
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A lot. Can't really pick a few out as it depends on the lore etc. etc. etc.
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I don't really dislike any, but I guess that I don't do a lot of superheroes or high school ones. Not that I am not interested in them. Oh dear, I am rambling.
A training or talk.
| Empire of Akino | Konohagakure, the Imperial capital | Trainingfield |
Team 9

A collab between Chromehound and Gerontis.

[ Summary ]
Shikaroku Nara is facing the objective to face a shadow clone of his sensei, Hiron Hon, much like his team members. Alone and with still a shoulder that hasn't fully healed, Shikaroku does his best to pass the grim test of his jounin-sensei. Eventually, the two sit down and talk about making choices.



  

Hiron had remained silent as he watched from his spot. No change in expression or composure as Kyoi and Karma would be given a chance to try to teach something useful to the genin. The whole affair wasn’t, however, just aimed at the genin but also at those two. Making mental notes, Hiron waited till they were done. Waiting a moment longer, he spoke up. ”Well, those were the signs that you can encounter. You each will get a scroll or so, later about the others. I expect you all to learn and memorise them. We will round today’s training with a small exercise.” Pausing, Hiron threw a glance at each of the genin. ”Each of you will be ‘given’ a shadow clone. Up to you on how to try to defeat it. If you don’t manage to defeat it within ten minutes or so, you have lost. Next training, you will be burdened with a heavier exercise.”

After finishing, Hiron conjured three said shadow clones. Each shadow clone of his would take a genin to another part of the field. The real Hiron crossed his arms out front of his chest and frowned at Karma and Kyoi. ”You two. How do you think your little training went with the genin?”

So it would be combat after all… Letting out a sigh, the Nara slowly made his way over to the section of the field where Hiron’s third clone stood. Glancing over towards the Hyuuga and the Uchiha, Shikaroku watched as they prepared for their fights. This was not a good position to be in… He was already wounded and Hiron was a far superior opponent. Even if he had been at full strength and Hiron were the one wounded, Shikaroku knew his chances of overcoming his sensei in a one-on-one fight were virtually nil.

Taking a moment to consider his options, the Nara looked up to the sky. The clouds above brought a sense of calm to him and Shikaroku looked down, meeting Hiron’s gaze. His decision was made..

The shadow clone held his gaze on Shikaroku, no move yet taken or made to initate the spar. A silence plagued the area that they were in, far from the other members of the team. The shadow clone of Hiron’s right eyebrow slightly perked up when Shikaroku met his gaze. ”Well, here we go. I suppose.” The jounin’s shadow clone mumbled. Nodding to Shikaroku that he could take the first move, the shadow clone’s stance or composure didn’t change.

Letting out another sigh, Shikaroku folded his arms across his chest, rolling his sore shoulder to stimulate the bloodflow. Staring at Hiron, the Nara made no move to attack or reach for a weapon. He simply stood still, contemplating several strategies on how he could possibly take on his sensei. Every single option he considered ended the same way and it wasn’t a favourable outcome for him. Reaching up with one hand, he scratched his temple slightly as he felt pressure gathering.

Relaxing his shoulders, Shikaroku stood a little taller, appearing to ready himself. Raising one hand in the air slowly, he never took his eyes off Hiron. “I concede.” the boy said firmly. Taking a moment to let his words sink in before he sat cross-legged on the ground.

A pause followed the genin’s word as the shadow clone just stood and seemed to stare at Shikaroku. The declaration of conceding would be replied only after a dozen of seconds passed. ”Hmm, and why do you concede?” The shadow clone asked, taking a few steps forward and sitting down on the ground as well. ”I imagine that you could have come up with something clever.” The tone which was used by the shadow clone marked it clear that he didn’t mind the decision, so far.

Surprised at first that Hiron did not yell, attack, or otherwise berate him for conceding instead of fighting, Shikaroku did not respond immediately. Glancing up to the sky above, the Nara took a moment to gather his thoughts. “Three reasons.” Shikaroku began, looking back at his sensei. “Firstly, fighting you is a terrible idea from the get go. In a real scenario I would have no real hope of beating you without some external force providing me with an advantage. My best bet would be to flee or cause a distraction in order to gain enough time to figure out another plan.”

Scratching the back of his neck with one hand, Shikaroku continued, ”Secondly, I am injured. My wound has still not healed and, while this training exercise is meant to imitate a real world scenario, it does not make sense for me to attempt fighting you and risk injuring myself further. Not only would it render me useless for a longer period of time, it would make me a potential liability for any upcoming operation. If this were a real life situation, my smartest move would be getting out of the way so that I was not a liability to the team. I would be putting them in more danger by trying to get involved directly and the enemy could potentially use me as a way of getting to the team, thereby risking the mission and their lives.”

Taking a moment, Shikaroku sighed and shrugged his shoulders lightly. “And finally… ” glancing away, the Nara shifted, massaging his wound. “We were given a time limit to defeat you. It would take me roughly that long to come up with more than one viable way to win this fight. During that time, I would need to analyze your fighting style, a feat I imagine to be quite difficult considering I am nowhere near your level.” Turning back, Shikaroku locked eyes with Hiron. “That means you would be holding back, letting me make the first move. As such, I would never get a feel for your limits, so a truly viable strategy would be nigh-impossible. Not to mention, you know of my natural… disability. If I spent too long trying to come up with a strategy, I’d be more than likely to get a debilitating migraine, rendering me useless anyways.” Shrugging again, The Nara’s tone held no emotion, everything he was saying was pure fact, nothing more. “So, I concede.”

Hiron listened to Shikaroku. When the Nara stated that there were three reasons, Hiron slightly leaned forward. The jounin leaned with an elbow on his leg, resting his head against his hand. Despite there was no change on the man’s facial features, his eyes half closed and he subtly nodded as Shikaroku kept advancing on explaining his decision.
Once Shikaroku finished, it remained silent for a few seconds.
”You pass.”

The two words were spoken in a neutral tone. Even as Hiron had imagined Shikaroku to make a smart decision, he didn’t want to give away that he was proud or even happy that the genin didn’t seem to be the usual type that genin were: the kind that didn’t give much thought on how to approach a situation, that violence wasn’t always going to help them.
”You are right in every aspect. Fighting with you lot at full would not gain anybody any further. I don’t need to prove to none of you that I am above you in fighting capability or experience. If I would need to? Well, no point in explaining. You know that I don’t tolerate any belly-aching or any rebellious attitude.”

Pausing, the shadow clone would straighten his back but not get up from sitting. ”The purpose was to test if you genin would understand that you can’t win every fight. That sometimes, you need to pull out of a fight, if possible or find a way to do so. Right now, well,” the shadow clone threw a look at where the other genin were tested. ”The other two aren’t as experienced as you yet. The time that you guys will be tested, both in missions and with the future Chuunin examinations. However, you earned your rest. Make sure you get that rest. For I can’t say how much time we have before we are required to move out again.”

Unable to hide the surprise from his face, Shikaroku tilted his head to the side and stared at Hiron for a long moment. The Jounin continued, explaining what the purpose of the test was and Shikaroku nodded solemnly, looking away. He felt a little guilty that he had passed by virtue of being lazy and not wishing to fight his sensei, but he also understood the man’s logic. In a real life situation, he would have taken the same actions, but it seems his decision had indeed been the right one. There had been a time that the Nara would have tried to take the heroic route. The way the stories always went with the hero overcoming tremendous odds to win the day. Life, however, had proven time and again that they were nothing more than stories. Real people didn’t overcome those odds, not without some serious help.

He didn’t like to think of himself as a coward, rather, he thought of himself as a survivor. When push came to shove, he would take the action necessary to ensure his survival. Unless of course it would put his village and the people he cared about at risk. Then… well, then Shikaroku hoped he would have the courage to make the hard choice.

Looking back at Hiron, the Nara shrugged. Wincing a little as the motion caused his shoulder to flare up in pain. “What would you have me do in a situation where a fight was inevitable and fleeing meant my comrades would likely be killed?” he asked finally, his voice quieter. “Would you still want me to flee?”

”What I would have done?” Hiron repeated, mumbling it but still faintly audible for Shikaroku. Briefly the man stayed silent, pondering on the question.
”At your age? I would have considered fighting back. But I learned pretty early when it is time to hold or fold. And with your current condition?” Hiron calmly stated, his eyes half closing and his composure being probably less intimidating. ”I would have fold if there wasn’t anything that obliged me to make a stand. To be honest though,” Hiron paused, ”It really depends on how further we analyse the situation.”

Letting those words sink, Hiron decided to give more meaning to what was probably a vague hint. ”If I could flee and it endangered my comrades? Then sucks for them. You see, that is the problem with people these day. Loyalty? I cherish and valued it like most people do. The problem is that you need to know what is more worth. If I get killed for a few genin, is it a good trade? I am a jounin, member of the War council and the major general of the Third Division. What worth do you and those other genin hold? Everybody and everything has a value, Shikaroku.”
Knowing that this wouldn’t comfort the boy much, Hiron didn’t really give a dime for it. He could remember genin that held too much value for their comrades lives. That followed that Will of Fire. A bunch of nonsense, Hiron thought to himself. Everybody underneath stress, pain or fear will be shaken and eager to get out of such a bad spot.
”Things change the more we put into the equation though. As much as I wouldn’t give a second of thought to preserve my own life, because I value it more than yours or anybody else in the team. My answer would certainly change if we change the team to somebody like a higher up or my family. I suppose I don’t need to explain further that personal preference and knowing the value of each person’s life is critical. And I hope you will be able to know the difference in time. I will be mildly pissed, after all, if you decide to save some lass, that has pretty looks, over an old hag that has vital information.”

He didn’t mention that he hoped that Shikaroku wouldn’t need to make that choice anytime soon. But Hiron knew that a time like that could very well be tomorrow or next week. Their line of work was too unpredictable to consider him safe from that for a long time.
”But, yes. I would want you to flee if I had to pick between you and those other two genin. You are of more value.” His voice was softer as he looked away, into the direction where the other spars were held. Something seemed to have bothered him, as if the given answer wasn’t one he wanted to give.
”You are more experienced, know how to listen to orders and got potential to become more than what you are now.”

Letting out a sigh, Shikaroku did not know what to think. He had hoped to hear some more uplifting words. Hiron had never been one to spout nonsense just to make someone feel better, however, and Shikaroku appreciated the man’s honesty. Scratching the back of his neck, the Nara glanced towards Hiron as he mentioned saving a pretty girl over an important target. A soft chuckle escaped his lips and Shikaroku shook his head. “I don’t think that would sit very well with my betrothed.” he said, a slight smile on his face that did not reach his eyes. Turning away, he shrugged again. “And before you say she wouldn’t know, don’t forget those Hyuuga see everything...”

A thought struck him and Shikaroku grew quiet, listening to the rest of what Hiron had to say. When the Jounin said he was more valuable, the Nara turned and looked at him for a moment, a question in his eyes. Hiron continued and Shikaroku looked away again, thinking about his words. He could not help but feel a moment of discomfort at the praise. “I don’t know if I can agree with you that I’m more valuable. I have more limitations than the other two. I am also older than both of them. Training under you is the only reason I’ve gotten this far. I imagine that both Yiko and Tomiko are capable of becoming far better than I’ll ever be if they continue to train with you.”

A scoff escaped Hiron as Shikaroku mentioned that Hyuuga saw all. He couldn’t agree for various reasons, one being pride but also because he had seen enough Hyuuga failing to notice the obvious. Despite their eyes. But he wouldn’t bring that up now. Certainly not with Shikaroku being betrothed to one.

”You don’t need to think about that, whether you’re more or less valuable.” Hiron calmly as bluntly stated. ”So far, I am the guy who makes those calls in this team. Those two have their own potential. They got those fancy dojutsu, pft.” Another scoff followed the jounin’s words. ”But look where that got them. Not much further than where they are now. They need to listen and understand various matters before they can improve. You are a few steps further. If only you would be less stubborn, you would be a damn good operative.”
Letting the words pass for a moment, Hiron slowly as subtly nodded. ”Anyways, we should conclude our training. Those other two failed and they got some way to go. But that is my worry. You,” Hiron threw a look towards Shikaroku. ”You probably should get some rest.”

“Some would say being stubborn is my best quality,” the Nara said after a brief pause, his tone holding a hint of amusement. Letting out another sigh, Shikaroku nodded. “Rest sounds good though.” Rolling his shoulder slightly to shake out the stiffness, Shikaroku glanced at Hiron. “Thank you Hiron-Sensei. I will try not to let you down.”

”You better not.” Was all that the jounin’s shadow clone responded. Waiting for Shikaroku to take his leave, the shadow clone would vanish from the site, disolvoving and transferring its remaining chakra and information to the real Hiron.
 

Nim

Active Identity Unknown
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Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
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One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
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I'm fine with both
Favorite Genres
Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror, Thriller, Modern, Fandoms
Of Smiths and a Naginata
Karma Minami, Team 7 Chuunin, Konohagakure

Summary:
Following the training with Hiron, Karma goes to take care of her weapon and pays a visit to her younger brother.

  
Having left the training field with Hiron Hon, Karma did wonder what kind of training she could potentially perform to a genin who is supposed to fail their current training. It was evident that he will teach them something valuable, but since he never told her or Kyoi what that lesson will be, Karma decided it was probably for the best to not and try and over think what it might be and instead think of what kind of training she could provide for any of three she had met today. Something useful, and yet, also be something that not everyone takes advantage of.

Walking forward, she felt the light tapping of the Naginata’s pole against her back. While the blade was covered with cloth for safety of others, Karma did remember how it wasn’t in the best of conditions anymore. Deciding to go to a blacksmith to take care of it, she hoped it wouldn’t require replacing the blade, and that it would be repairable. Of course, with such a small blade, it was clear that the latter option wasn’t as likely, but it worth asking about regardless. As she begun making her way to the blacksmith, Karma recalled her brother was working today. A smile came to her face as she wondered if he would enjoy a little surprise visit from his sister, and hastened her step slightly more.

It took her around thirty minutes of walking, along with passing into the central district, before she arrived at the blacksmiths. Called ‘Hiramo’s Irons’, it wasn’t the biggest or most impressive smithy in the Arsenal, but the weapons and tools that were on display certainly seemed like they were made with care and from quality materials. Of course, appearances did not mean everything. Approaching the counter, Karma smiled as she already spotted Mimura, hard at work a bit further into the smithy.

An older man, with black and grey hair, well muscular and quite a few burn marks over his arms, approached the counter and blocked Mimura from her sight ”Welcome to Hiramo’s Irons. I’m Hiramo. Anything I can do help, miss?” He asked, sounding very polite as he spoke with a rather low voice. While his eyes did look over the Naginata, it seemed he had elected not to guess what she had needed, as shinobi could use any number of tools.

Looking at the man, who certainly gave off the feel of a hard working man, Karma nodded as she took the Naginata off her back and placed it on the counter. She begun unravelling the cloth that hid the blade away ”I fear the blade of my Naginata requires some treatment. It potentially goes beyond sharpening, but I’m not entirely sure myself. I came here because of my brothers recommendation. You may know him as the young fellow who is working in the back of your smithy.” She said.


As he listened on, Hiramo looked at the blade before raising his glance towards Karma ”Young Minami-san’s older sister, the shinobi huh? Well,” He said, grabbing a hold of the Naginata and bringing the blade closer to his face, taking a much better look ”The blade certainly grew a bit dull and there are some signs of cracks along it. You didn’t go smacking it against rocks, did you?” He asked, but not before moving to take a look at the staff too ”I can also see the pole has seen better days. How long have you had the Naginata in use?” Looking towards her, he placed the weapon back on the counter.

”Close to four years. I did get the blade sharpened at least one other time.” Karma responded. The way he asked made her more concerned than before, but she could also understand that not taking the best care she could of the Naginata meant it would have a shorter life span ”What do you think would be the best course of action?”

Hiramo looked towards her and thought briefly ”It would be possible to fix the Naginata to a more proper shape, but unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that any fix will hold for long. I can only fix what I can see, and only the blade too. The staff requires woodwork, and from what I know, the poles of a Naginata often have less chance of being fixed due to how they are made to also hold the blade. If that edge goes, then the weapon goes. If you cannot afford a new Naginata yet, then I can offer to do what I can and do the best fix that I can. If you can afford one, then a new Naginata is probably for the better.” He told her.

Thinking about everything the Smith had told her, Karma tried to think on how much savings she had and if she could afford a new Naginata. It certainly wouldn’t be cheap, and once she gets a new Naginata, it is often best to get the feel of the weapon before taking it out on the field, and she couldn’t be sure if she had the time. Who knew if she wouldn’t suddenly be called out.

”Karma-nee!” Was suddenly called, turning Karma’s attention to her younger brother, who was carrying a small crate with shuriken ”What are you doing here?” He asked as he went to where the other shuriken were, and begun restocking the small, throwable stars where they belonged.

Hiramo looked at his young apprentice ”Minami-san here came to see if I could fix her Naginata to the best possible shape. Unfortunately, it had seen better days, so I cannot do much but give it a bit more time before it will fall apart or the blade will break. I have given her my opinion on the matter, and now she is considering what to do.” He told him quickly, while motioning to him to get his full attention to the restocking.

Before Karma could say anything, Mimura put down the crate and quickly approached the counter, moving to stand next to Karma ”Hiramo-sensei, maybe I could work for slightly less for a couple of months, and in exchange you will provide Karma-nee with a new Naginata and a fix for her current one with a discount?” The young boy asked, clearly wanting to help.

Shaking her head slightly, Karma placed her hand on Mimura’s shoulder ”There is no need to do that. You and the family need the money. And with the savings I have, I can afford the fix for now, and after another mission or two, I’ll be able to afford a new Naginata too. Besides, I don’t want you to worry about paying debts that you made just for me.” She told him.

Looking slightly disappointed, Mimura looked down ”Okay Karma-nee.” He muttered before going back to restocking the shuriken. Hiramo, looking over both, turned his attention to Karma ”Alright then. A fix for now it is. I can send the Naginata’s pole to be smoothed while I work on the blade, and the weapon will be back in shape in two days time." The smithy's owner told her.

While she was slightly disheartened to see her younger brother like that, Karma turned to Hiramo, who explained the process and how long it would take. Nodding, she took out her wallet ”How much would it be then?”

Shaking his head slightly, Hiramo took out a note and marked it with a certain symbol, before beginning to tie it to the pole of the Naginata ”You can pay after it is ready. Seeing as your younger sibling is a worker here, and with the way the Naginata is, I would dare say that it is for the better, in case anything were to happen to the weapon.” He said, before placing the Naginata on a small rack behind him. Walking to Mimura, he tapped the young boy’s shoulder ”Why don’t you go and show your sister how you smith a kunai?” He told his apprentice.

Excited by what his mentor suggested to him, Mimura turned to look at Karma, before quickly motioning to her to follow him deeper into the smithy.

Looking towards Hiramo, Karma offered the man a bow ”Thank you for this, Hiramo-san. I won’t take away much of Mimura’s time.” She told him, before following the path her younger brother took, curious to see how an apprentice smith worked his magic.

 

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A Surprise Part 1 Yoshikuni Sadako, Chuunin of Team 11, Amegakure

Summary:

On her way to treat Sadako's Raining Tea Library, Kuni encounters a surprise that confuses her greatly.​

  
A couple of hours have passed since the training session the introduced Kuni to her new team had occurred. She had since went back to Eiji’s house, changed her clothes and left the place once more to go to the Sadako’s Raining Tea Library, which she felt she still had a lot of work to do in. While she had a lot of other things she wanted to do as well, including conducting some research to find a new topic to discuss with Son-Goku, she felt like bringing the place back together, to a proper shape, was somewhat of a priority in her head. It was still the place that was once owned by her mom, and at the very least, Kuni wanted to make sure it looked fine and was taken care of.

As she walked towards the place, Kuni looked up towards the sky. It was cloudly, as always, and one could feel bits of rain drops, suggesting there might be a stronger rain coming soon. The sooner she got to the place, the less wet she would be. Not that being wet ever really mattered to her.

Bringing her gaze back to the street, she could see ‘Sadako’s Raining Tea Library’ in sight. And there were also a couple of people standing in front of it, talking among themselves. As she got closer, it became more apparent that the man was an elder, appearing to be in his 70’s if she had to guess, while the woman was younger, probably in her late 30’s or early 40’s. She couldn’t quite make out what they were exactly talking about, but the woman’s gesture and body language made it very clear she was wanting to keep moving ahead, but the man did not, instead looking through the glass of the place that had the name ‘Sadako’ on it, as he pointed to it a couple of times.

Once she was closer, Kuni begun making out what the two had been saying ”Father, would you just stop it, please! You have been staring at the window of the place for over fifteen minutes. Clearly it isn’t open, or nobody inside cares to open it for you. Just because this is the last known address doesn’t mean it has to be the right one. Let us just go back ho-”

”Home? Home? What do I have left there? Nothing but debts to leave to your brothers and to you! At the very least, I want to find out-”

The elder man stopped talking as he noticed Kuni approaching the door of the Raining Tea Library, and just kept staring at her for a few moments. Kuni, who was holding the key to the place in her hand, stared back ”I’m sorry, but the place has been closed for over two months now. And frankly, it is quite a mess inside, so I will have to suggest you go somewhere else. My apologies.” She told them with a small bow towards the two before going back to unlocking the door. Once she opened it and stepped inside, however, she noticed the elder man was still staring at her, although he had become a bit paler.

The woman, who clearly had enough, started to drag the man away, but not before stopping in front of Kuni, who stood at the entrance ”My apologies for his behavior. His age makes him think he is owed everything, and he stopped by here because we were given the address, hoping it would lead us to find someone we haven’t been in touch with for a very long time.” She told her, and offered an apologetic look and a bow before going back to dragging the old man away.

Kuni, who just watched the two, felt a bit bad. She didn’t want to let them just wander around and look for an address without a guide. Especially if they were looking for someone specific ”Wait!” She called to the two, stepping outside and locking the door ”If this isn’t the address, then at least let me help you find the right one. If you aren’t from around, then let me be your guide.” She told the two, stepping towards them and offering a smile ”Let me help you reunite with the person you are missing.”

While the man was still in somewhat of a shock, the woman offered a delighted smile and bowed towards Kuni ”Thank you, Thank you! We’re in your debt.” She rose from the bow and looked towards the man ”This is my father. He will be furious if anyone but himself introduced him. I’m Eden Yoshida. Like you guessed, we aren’t from around, but we do come from the Rain province. Our family has been in a small farm in the north of the province, relatively close to the border with the Earth country.” Eden told the young girl a bit about herself and where she came from, before suddenly remembering something and beginning to rummage quickly through her bag, before taking out a note and then handing it over to Kuni ”This is the address we were given. The man who sent us here remembered a nice lady helping him, and it’s that lady we are looking for.”

Listening to the woman, who introduced herself as Eden, Kuni wasn’t too surprised that a family that lived in the north of the province wouldn’t have come to Amegakure before. Even if it was not too far, they most likely managed to sustain themselves with business from the local clans to ever need to come all the way. When Eden begun rummaging through her bag, the Jinchuuriki decided it was the best time to introduce herself ”Well, you introduced yourself, only fair I do the same. I’m Yoshikuni Sadako, Chuunin from Amegakure. Most people call me Kuni, and you can feel free to call me that too. I also own the place your old geezer was staring into, although as I mentioned before, it has-”

She didn’t finish talking before Eden suddenly handed her a note with an address. Looking at it, Kuni rose her eyebrows slightly. ”Well, the address you came to was that one indeed. But my business hadn’t been open long enough, and I honestly doubt many people would have recommended it.” Kuni said, before looking up at Eden ”Maybe you were looking for the previous store, Sadako’s Silks?”

Eden thought about briefly, while the elderly man seemed to snap out of his shock and turn to look at his daughter ”So I was right! This was the address! Maybe this kid can help us!” He suddenly exclaimed, making Eden turn to look at him briefly before turning back to look at Kuni ”It is a possibility, I suppose. We were following a fairly old lead. Almost twenty one years old, you could say. But maybe we shouldn’t talk too much about this while standing in the middle of the street?” She asked, clearly hinting she wasn’t the most comfortable speaking about this out in the open like this.

Kuni, understanding, motioned to the two to follow her. She unlocked the door to the Raining Tea Library and opened the door. Indicating to the two that it was fine to enter, She went inside and pulled a table and a few chairs away from the wall, setting up a spot for the three to sit at. The Furniture didn’t gather much dust since she last cleaned them a few days ago, so a simple wipe was all that took to make them look nice. After doing so, Kuni looked towards the man, who still did not introduce himself, and Eden, motioning they can feel free to sit down, while she went to the door and locked it, to ensure no one decided to barge in on them.

The man started pulling Eden, following the young girl into the place she apparently owned. It seemed odd in his eyes that a girl at a such an age would own a full on place, but who was he to judge such matters? He didn’t really care either. All he wanted was to find the person they were looking for, and if the girl could help, then that was all he needed to hear about. He personally didn’t care if they talked outside or in private, but if his daughter wanted privacy, then the faster they got it, the better. Once they were inside, the elder felt as though this place certainly seen better days. It looked as though most of the furniture wasn’t in the best condition, with some being completely in pieces. But deciding to put that aside, when the young girl motioned they could take a seat, he did so without hesitation ”So what could you tell us about-”

”Father, please. Be polite. Yoshikuni just let us into a place she privately owns while not having to do so.” Eden told him, sounding a bit harsh in the way she silenced him. Sitting down by the table as well, she waited for Yoshikuni to come and sit down with them, only for the young girl to first vanish into another room. She quickly took this moment to look at her father and give him a glare, one which he responded to with a glare of his own, before looking back to the young girl as she returned with a small tray with three water glasses.

After placing down each of the three glasses, Kuni finally sat down in front of the two and offered them a gentle smile ”So, you were talking about a seventeen year old lead, that ended up with a man giving you this address?” She asked, and Eden nodded as a response. The Jinchuuriki looked down at her water glass ”Weird. I don’t think anyone but my mother owned the place for quite some time. And she had the place under the name of ‘Sadako’s Silks’. Did the person who gave you the address knew the name of the place he directed you to?” She asked, and the woman sitting across from her shook her head.

Eden took a hold of her water glass ”I am afraid we were following very thin leads. It was mostly due to my Father, he is the one who is pursuing it more than anyone. We were honestly quite fortunate to have come this far. The man who gave us this address told us he did recall a woman matching the description we gave him coming to him, asking if there were any residences open for sale in Amegakure, and this was the address he recalled giving her. He said it was easy for him to remember it due to how she came in an extremely stormy night, just as he was about to close, and practically begged for him to check. She never told him why she was there at that time of night, but whenever he saw her afterwards, she always had the biggest of smiles to offer to him.”

The woman started to tear up a bit, and the elder placed his right hand on her left arm. It was clearly not an easy topic for her, Kuni thought, as the man turned to look at her. The look in his eyes was still rather serious, but it still seemed like something had softened up a bit. After a minute or so, Eden wiped the tears away and continued ”He couldn’t tell us what became of the woman, as he moved away, into a different part of Amegakure, and didn’t get to see the woman for over 10 years, and also became more occupied with his job.” She continued, although her voice had weakened a bit, as if she was worried that lead was the end of the line after all. Even if she said it was her father who pushed them forward on this, it was clear she wanted to reach their goal.

”Something my daughter here hasn’t brought up yet is the name of the person we are looking for. Perhaps you knew her as an employee in the silks shop. It would make sense too, as she always had a talent with silks. Her name was Hanako Yoshida. Eden’s sister, and my eldest daughter. She ran away when she was twenty, after a fight I’ve had with her. Stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my whole life, and one I’ve come to always regret really. It’s why I’ve come looking for her. I wanted to make amends. I wanted to find her and tell her how sorry I am for that stupidness of mine, how I am an old geezer who never understood what it meant for her. And I also need to deliver to her some bitter news, but one I felt I must be the one to tell her.”

As the old man spoke, the expression on his face showed just how much regret he had over this, and it made him look so much older, like he just became over 100 years old in a matter of seconds. He continued to speak and explain, and it seemed as though it pained for him to think about his eldest daughter and the other topic that he mentioned, as the grasp of his hand over Eden’s arm tightened. The woman slightly flinched from the sudden strong grasp of her arm, but she did not complain or say a word. She just looked at her father, tearing up once more as she watched him.

”So, have you ever known a Hanako Yoshida? Do you know if she ever worked at the silks shop, with your mother?” The man asked, loosening his grasp over his daughter’s arm and looking at Yoshikuni, hopeful the young girl might have an answer that will let them continue on their path to finding his eldest daughter once more.

Listening to the old man explain who they were looking for made Kuni look down to her glass. She remembered how worried Eiji had been when she ran away, shortly after her mom died. She heard of how he came all the way to Konoha to make sure she was okay, and that was about a month or two after she had run away. To not see his daughter for twenty years seemed so, so long. But then he mentioned the name a second time, asking if she had worked with her mom. And something stuck with her. His daughter’s name was Hanako. Her mom was Hanako. Both were good with Silks. Both had apparently spent some time in here. The difference was in the surnames. Yoshida and Sadako.

Trying to think about it, Kuni couldn’t remember anyone but her mom and her working at the shop. And saying she really worked wasn’t quite right either, not until she turned 11 and helped making a bit of deliveries, anyway. But she was only 14, almost 15, and their Hanako had apparently ran away twenty one years ago. There were at least 6 years she couldn’t account for at all, and then there were another 3 years she couldn’t really remember anything from, as a baby and infant. So 9 years in total she couldn’t tell them about at all.

But still, something slightly bugged her about this. Looking up at the two, Kuni decided to try something ”I can’t quite remember, but it might be because I was too young to remember the names. Maybe telling me how she looked could help? I understand it was twenty years or so, but people don’t usually change that much, right?” She tried to encourage them a bit.

The old man simply nodded lightly before Eden spoke up ”Well, we have a drawing of her one of my two brothers did. He was always artistic, and made drawings of all the family members. Let me find it for you, it’s somewhere in my bag.” She said before turning to rummage through her bag once more. The elder simply kept his eyes on Yoshikuni ”You remind me of her, when she was young. Although she had brown eyes, not green.” He suddenly told her, albeit softly, as if to make sure Eden didn’t hear ”And I could tell on your expression. There is something you aren’t telling us. I hope you do share that thought soon. I’d hate to think I would need to turn away just because some bratty girl didn’t share everything she knew.”

Finding the drawing, Eden rose her sight and attention back to the table and offered Yoshikuni the drawing. It was a coloured, and rather detailed drawing of a young woman, holding a broom and having a gentle smile on her face. She wore a simple dress, yet on her it felt as though it was elegant. She had brown hair, long enough to reach the middle of her back, and appeared to sway in the wind. However, her eyes, which were muddy brown, were looking towards the ground, and what they expressed was different than everything else in the drawing did. They expressed sadness.

After listening to the old man, Kuni was about to respond, but she received the drawing from Eden, turning her attention to that instead of responding. Her eyes slightly widened at the drawing. It helped connect the pieces for her without a shred of doubt. But, she didn’t know if they would believe her. They came here, all this way, looking for her. For Hanako. Their Hanako.

Her Hanako. Her mom.

Handing the drawing back, Kuni nodded lightly ”I know where Hanako is. I can show you, but there are a couple of things I need to tell you first. You have every right to not believe me, but from what you have shown me and told me, it makes the most sense to me. And I won’t be holding back anything in my mind.” She told the two, with the older man nodding and Eden simply waiting to hear what the young girl had to say.

”After running away from the farm, Hanako Yoshida arrived at Amegakure on a stormy night, and seeked out a place for herself. One she could use as a shelter, and one which would end up becoming her home. She would spend her next years living here, working at a silks shop. She would have moderate success with her shop, being known for good quality silks, decent prices and the best service one could offer. She had no troubles here, and it seemed as though she would have no trouble here.” Kuni stood up from the table ”Come with me. I’ll keep telling you what I need to tell you on the way.” She suddenly told them, walking to the door and unlocking it.

The old man and Eden both looked a bit surprised, and while it seemed like the elder wanted to complain, Eden motioned to him to remain silent as she stood up, prompting the elder to stand up as well, before they both stepped outside. They watched as Yoshikuni locked the door to the Raining Tea Library, and then begun walking alongside her as she resumed talking.

”A few years passed, and the war came around. I don’t know the exact reasoning of how it came about or why, but men from the Fire Country had come around and were stationed near Amegakure. One of them had become involved with Hanako, and the two shared a love that blossomed, although for a very short time. His name was Haru Hon. Although it was short, Hanako became pregnant, and gave birth to a child in the middle of the war.”

Eden couldn’t help but show the shock on her face, holding her hands to her mouth. The old man, on his end, had widened his eyes slightly. His face also became a bit redder, although it was hard to tell if it was from anger, excitement, or both.

”The next years weren’t the easiest for Hanako, but everyone around her said it looked like the happiest years of her life. Raising the child, even if it was never in the best of conditions, was what brought joy to her life. She gave the child the freedom to learn, to live and experience life as much as possible. And so the child did.”

At this point, Kuni became a bit hesitant. As they took a turn to a more open part, walking away from the buildings, she decided to keep on going with the story.

”The child became quite the troublemaker, to the point of having a reputation as one. But Hanako knew better. She knew there was so much more in her child. She sent them to the shinobi academy, as she had learned from local jounins that her child met the standards to learn how to become one. And her child did end up becoming one. And Hanako was so proud. She hoped that though this new role her child had, that she would learn how to become so much more than a troublemaker. That she would become someone others could rely on. Someone who will always be there to offer help.”

As they passed through an entrance to a graveyard, Eden looked up and appeared to briefly wonder what had been the purpose of bringing them here. The old man, however, kept his eyes on Yoshikuni, waiting to hear everything she had to say. After moving between the rows for a bit, they came to a halt next to one, and Kuni took another step, turning to face the two. Her eyes had become red, and it was evident that she was stopping herself from crying for some time, although it was unclear for Eden as to why. The old man, however, had a feeling he could guess.

”A few months after the child became a genin for Amegakure, something horrible occurred. Something no one in the area could explain, as Hanako had always been a kind lady. Someone had decided to rob the silks shop. Hanako, while not fighting back, was still stabbed. Her wounds were severe, as they went through a couple of vital organs and the medical shinobi team could not get there in time. Hanako had passed away with her child by her side.”

Gesturing to the grave that was between them, Eden and the old man turned to look at it. It indeed said Hanako on it, but the surname was wrong. It was Sadako. Eden turned to look at Yoshikuni, clearly upset by this story and still being led to the wrong person, but the old man stopped her.

”Since arriving at Amegakure, Hanako did not use the name of Yoshida. I don’t know why, but if they argument you had with her was so bad, then she might’ve wanted to hide from you. Since arriving at Amegakure, she used the name Sadako. The store she ran had been Sadako’s Silks. That was the first thing I needed to tell you.”

Kuni looked directly into the old man’s eyes. He returned the stare.

”The second thing is that my name is Yoshikuni Sadako. Born March 15th, 462, to Hanako Sadako. I shared her birthday, and felt the immense love she had to offer for close to twelve years of my life. And if what you say is right, and what you showed me is right, then without a shred of doubt, I am related to the both of you. I’m your granddaughter.” She told the old man, who closed his eyes, letting a few tears flow down his cheeks, while Kuni turned to look at Eden ”And your niece.”

Eden, who appeared to be in complete shock over the last couple of things, took a few moments before she turned to the grave, then turning to Yoshikuni, and then to the old man, doing so numerous times. Finally, the old man patted his daughter’s shoulder, getting her full focus.

”I am afraid that it feels like this is the truth, Eden. Considering why she ran off, it only makes more sense that she would change her name. Although, to hear that I have lost a daughter over two years ago and never knew.” He said, with the tears keeping a steady flow over his cheeks. Opening his eyes, which became red, he turned to look at Yoshikuni ”I suppose you would know best, as her daughter. You knew her from the drawing, correct?” He asked. Receiving a single nod from Yoshikuni as a response, he turned to look at the grave and then kneeled, putting his hand on the grave.

”I am sorry Hanako. I am so, so very sorry. I have never meant for this to happen. To lose touch with you so long ago. To lose the chance to talk with you ever again. It is beyond unbearable to think this is how I found out. Getting told this by your daughter, my granddaughter. Not that I have even remotely given her any reason to call me grandpa, coming out of the blue and just asking about you, without knowing it was you all along.”

Taking a couple more moments as he touched the grave, the old man stood up and turned to look at Yoshikuni ”My name is Masakuni Yoshida. I apologize for not offering it sooner, I don’t tend to offer it to people unless they have given me a good reason, earned my respect, or they are people of high stature like clan Lords. And you certainly gave me a good reason.” He said, before taking a step closer to Yoshikuni ”Taking a closer look at you only reminds me further of how she looked back at the day. It seems like forever ago now.”

While watching the old man speak to the grave, and afterwards introduce himself to her, Kuni offered a small smile ”Seeing that drawing was like seeing mom again, although the expression her eyes portrayed were different. They were sad. The expression I knew was always happy, kind and loving. Worried when I was sick. But never sad, not even in her last moments.” She told him, and watched as Eden kneeled down to embrace the gravestone, seemingly finally accepting what had been told to her before. Looking at Masakuni, she couldn’t help but wonder something ”You mentioned Hanako’s mom when you spoke to the grave. What did you mean?” Came the question towards him.

Masakuni turned to look towards the grave, and a clear, sad expression was present on his face ”Almost three years ago, her mother passed away. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was still hard on all of us. She was an incredible woman, although being more physically weak than most people due to some illness, it made life much harder for her. Her body gave up almost three years ago. When I think about it, it was a few days after Hanako-” He stopped speaking and turned to look up at the cloudy sky. It was beginning to rain.

While the rain didn’t seem to bother Yoshikuni or Masakuni that much, Eden certainly minded, as she quickly took out an umbrella from her bag and opened it above her head ”Maybe we should find some shelter, somewhere?” Eden suggested, clearly not wanting to stay outside in the rain. She did glance over the grave once more, with an incredibly sad look, before looking back to the other two.

Kuni nodded lightly ”I know a place we could go to. Even if the owner will be home, I’m sure he won’t mind, seeing as you will be coming with me.” She said, and begun leading them away from the grave. While Eden was relatively quick to follow, Masakuni took a moment to give the grave another look, and tell it something neither of the women could hear, before following in the footsteps of the two.
 

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A Surprise Part 2 Yoshikuni Sadako, Chuunin of Team 11, Amegakure


Summary:

On her way to treat Sadako's Raining Tea Library, Kuni encounters a surprise that confuses her greatly.​


  

Taking about twenty minutes to walk from the graveyard, they arrived in front of a house. While Kuni approached the door without any problems, Eden appeared slightly hesitant, and Masakuni looked at it with suspicion.

Upon realizing the other two were standing in the middle of the street instead of staying besides her, Kuni turned back to the two and walked closer to them ”This is where I currently live. The house is owned by a man called Eiji Emiya. He used to be my shinobi sensei, and we grew to care about each other. He is like a father to me more than anyone will ever be. He looked out for me during a time I was having difficulties, and I tried being as much as I could for him. So you don’t need to feel worried, this is a safe place.”

Eden seemed to be more reassured, while Masakuni still seemed a bit suspicious. Both ended up nodding and following Kuni, who walked to the door once more, unlocking it and opening it for the two of them to go inside. Eden immediately seemed to feel much more relaxed, putting her umbrella in a small umbrella bin that stood by the entrance and enjoying the rainless space that allowed her to begin to dry up a bit. Masakuni seemed a bit more reluctant to step further inside as he took off his shoes, simply looking around the room that greeted them.

Kuni, stepping further inside, turned to look at them ”I’ll go make us some hot drinks. You can feel free to take a seat in the living room.” She said, moving towards the stairs and looking up. She couldn’t spot any lights coming from the floor above, indicating no one else was currently in the house. Wondering if Ryu went to train once more, and if Eiji and Sachi would be back soon, Kuni turned back to look at Eden and Masakuni ”Any preferences for a hot drink?” she asked.

Eden shook her head, while Masakuni responded ”Anything that isn’t mint will work. Thank you.” and then the two watched as Yoshikuni left to go a room more in the back of the house, likely the kitchen. Before he could even turn to look at his daughter, she already went and sat down on the couch, very much feeling comfortable. The old man sighed before going and taking a seat besides her.

”The home of the man who took care of Yoshikuni-san since-” He stopped himself before finishing the sentence or the line of thought. It was still too fresh. He swallowed as he grabbed a hold of his daughter’s hand. Getting a squeeze from her, Masakuni felt a bit more secure ”The house looks like a decent place, if I were to judge it by the living room. It is comfortable, and nothing overly flashy. Certainly looks like a good place to raise a child at.” He said. Looking over at his daughter, she offered him a gentle smile and a nod of agreement.

At the kitchen, Kuni was still contemplating on what to do next. The kettle heating up some water gave her a few moments to think things over. She chose a berry mix for the three of them to drink as tea, which was a bitter-sweet tea. But that wasn’t what she was having a hard time with.

Last time she discovered she had living relatives, Haru came looking for her specifically, hoping to get a spot in her life and to show her his side. And she rejected it all, up until recently. Making a note to think about sending the man a letter, she leaned against the counter. Eden and Masakuni did not come here looking for her, they never even knew who she was. They came here looking for Hanako, her mother. And she unveiled the truth to them. Who even knows if they will want to look at the option to get to know her better. Maybe they will just ask about Hanako and then leave without any further words. No more trouble for her, and no more trouble for them. They would go their separate ways without needing to indulge further into any more trouble.

But, they were her mom’s family. They knew things about her that Kuni didn’t. And learning more about her mom was something she didn’t imagine would ever be possible for her. And yet, her mom never once mentioned having a family somewhere out there, as she also went to the length of even changing her surname. For a second Kuni thought the fact that means her name could’ve been Yoshikuni Yoshida, which sounded a bit silly, but she shook her head lightly as she pushed that thought aside.

She wanted to learn more. To understand what had happened that made her mom run away in the first place. That could help her reach a decision. Realizing the kettle was whistling, Kuni turned to it poured the steaming water into each of the three cups, before taking a small tray and using it to move the cups to the living room, where she found Eden and Masakuni sitting in silence, looking rather sad, but not alone. Coming closer to the two, she placed the tray on the small coffee table that was in the living room and moved to place a cup of tea in front of each of them before placing one in front of where she will sit at, and afterwards taking her own seat.

”I was hoping I could ask the two of you a question or two, regarding my mom.” Kuni said, looking to them and hoping they were feeling up for it.

Eden looked at Yoshikuni, shaking her head lightly. It seemed that the thought of bringing up memories for her was still too much. Masakuni gave Yoshikuni a gentle look that clearly stated he wanted to answer every question she had about Hanako, but much like his daughter, it was too soon for them. They both experienced the loss just now, while she lived with it for close to three years now.

”We will both be around Amegakure for a few more days. We are staying in a small hotel, as I had hoped we’ll get to spend some time with-” Masakuni stopped himself from mentioning her name ”But seeing as, her daughter, then I would be willing to spend more time with you. You could tell me of how you knew her, and I will share my side of things. But asking for this right now is a bit too much for me to handle. I hope you understand.” Masakuni spoke.

Nodding, Kuni looked down to the cup of tea. It was more than understandable, really. Each person handled grief in a different way, and from what she had learned, Masakuni had more than just grief on his heart. He had regret, and now he will never be able to get forgiveness for his actions.

Wanting to move away from the thoughts about her sister, Eden looked at the young girl ”So, you said you are a Chuunin for Amegakure. That is quite the dangerous role you have there, especially considering the things we’ve heard around since we came to the city a couple of nights ago. The reputation of shinobi is not looking like the best reputation at these times. Much has happened in the city that apparently involves shinobi, even in the past few days.” She said ”Aren’t you scared for yourself?” came the question.

Kuni’s gaze remained on the cup of tea before finally moving to Eden as she asked her question ”I am, but I’ve learned to live with the fear for myself for a year now. I’ve learned to look past the hate and fear of others of me for some time now, as it came from more than just being a shinobi. I am also Amegakure’s Jinchuuriki, the host of the Yonbi, and it is public know-”

As she turned to look at Eden and Masakuni, Kuni noticed that while the old man kept listening, the woman had become much paler. It seemed she had heard of what being a Jinchuuriki properly meant. Eden suddenly stood up and grabbed Masakuni’s hand ”We should leave right away, father. I don’t wish to stay near the Jinchuuriki.” She stated, being very blatant about what she thought.

Masakuni, however, removed his hand from his daughter’s grasp ”You have been speaking to her for some time now. She is the daughter of your sister. Are you going to tell me that because of something that resides inside of her, sealed away by experts most likely, you are going to just ignore everything else and see nothing but the monster? Because acting like that turns you into more of a monster than she will most likely ever be. And I never raised you to be a monster, did I?” He asked, sounding stern and giving his daughter a very serious stare.

Hearing the response of Masakuni, along with the stare, made Eden look down to the floor, as she slowly sat back down on the couch. She appeared ashamed of her actions just now, but it was unclear if she was intending to apologize for her actions just yet.

The whole scenario didn’t really matter to Kuni. She had seen people do much worse things than just try to walk away from her. Even if it was family, she wasn’t surprised such a reaction came. People fear what they don’t understand ”If that’s called being a monster, then the city is filled with them. Although, I suppose it both that and my reputation as a troublemaker that made me go through encountering so many people who reacted like that. I have been working on improving how I approach and react to people, but it is a slow process to change how people view you, especially when you have a negative title stuck on your forehead. And I have two that are viewed as negative, currently.”

The old man listened, appearing to try to understand the young girl’s troubles. It wasn’t easy growing up without parents, and then to also have titles that make it harder for her to interact with others without them having previous opinions due to what she was, it made Masakuni feel a bit sorry for her. But at the same time, seeing how she talked about the matters without much concern made him realize that perhaps the girl had already found her way of going about this. Thinking of this, however, brought up a question to his mind ”You said the man in who owns the house took you in, and yet back in the graveyard, you named your father as Haru Hon. Did he also-”

”No. He is alive and well, last I heard from him. He was not around as I grew up, having went back to the Hon clan’s capital, where he is from, and was unaware of me being around until a year and a half ago, perhaps a bit longer. He had tried to let me into his side of the family, the Hon clan, but due to the manner he did things, I found it hard to accept his offer and outright refused to let him be a part of my life. He did approach me again since, but I’m still reluctant to let him fully into my life.” Kuni stated in a very straight-forward manner, sounding serious and also not making it clear she wasn’t willing to discuss it any further.

Eden, who had been looking down towards the floor, finally rose her sight towards Yoshikuni ”And here you go on about how the city is filled with monsters. You aren’t exactly that much better than any of them, refusing to give a man a chance because of who he is.” she said, sounding as though she thought Yoshikuni was being quite the hypocrite.

Not paying attention to his daughter’s remark, Masakuni kept his eyes on the Jinchuuriki ”It is quite understandable to have conflicted feelings about such a matter. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear if you have conflicting feelings regarding us too. Suddenly having family, which you never knew before, it could be incredibly scary. I am personally still somewhat confused myself. But that is exactly why you oughta keep an open mind. Never judge too fast and always consider all the potentials.” He spoke, sounding like a man with much experience, before he reached for the tea cup and grasped it with both hands, enjoying the heat it offered, and then taking a sip from it.

Kuni, who looked towards Eden when she made that remark, quickly turned her attention to Masakuni. It certainly sounded like he was saying the right things, and how that was the right approach. But Eden’s remark still stuck in her head. She was right too, but Kuni wanted to say how the older woman wasn’t right still. That there was so much more she didn’t understand. But was there? Feeling hesitant on saying anything further, the young girl decided to also grab her cup of tea and drink from it.

They sat there like that, in silence, for a few minutes, before Masakuni finally spoke up ”It sounds as though the rain might be starting to give out a bit. Perhaps Eden and I should take this chance and head to the hotel we’re staying at.” Looking at the two, it was rather clear to him that things were becoming relatively tense, and as much as he wanted to talk further with Yoshikuni, he wanted to do it on a lighter tone than sticking around to potentially watching an explosion of feelings occur from either women. Not to mention, he still needed more time to process what he had learned.

Nodding in agreement, Eden stood up without any hesitation. She made her way to the door, but not before stopping besides Yoshikuni ”Thank you for the hospitality you have shown us, and for the shelter you have offered us.” she said, and although her gratitude did not sound the best, it felt sincere. She then made her way to the door, put on her shoes and grabbed her umbrella before opening the door ”I’ll be waiting outside father.” was quickly called out before the door closed behind her.

Offering a slight nod towards the woman as Eden offered her gratitude, Kuni turned to look towards Masakuni, who also stood up, but took another sip first. Standing up herself, the young girl wasn’t still wasn’t entirely sure, but decided to speak up ”You are right, about the whole thing being confusing. I think Haru handled it somewhat poorly, but it doesn’t feel the same way now. So, seeing as you did say both of you will be around for a few more days, I would like to speak some more with both of you. Perhaps handle things a bit better with Eden. And certainly get to know you better,” She paused for a moment. She had an incredibly poor grasp on the small titles, as she didn’t normally use them, but she did want to work more on her interactions, and this was such moment ”Masakuni-sama.”

Putting the cup of tea down on the table, Masakuni offered her a smile ”I would be delighted to get to know you better as well, Yoshikuni-san. You can find us at the hotel we’re staying at, which is the Watered Sakura hotel. We will be around for three more days before we’ll head back to the farm, but, should we not get the chance to do so, allow me to also invite you to our farm. We’ll welcome you there in whatever manner you may desire.” He told her, before finally offering his hand to shake.

Kuni smiled as she heard what Masakuni had to say, and was a bit surprised to hear his invitation to the farm. Escorting the old man to the door, she offered him a bow, which he returned along a smile, before watching as he stepped outside. Turning around on the spot, Kuni went and begun putting the tea cups back on the tray before making her way to the kitchen, her mind occupied with everything that had just occurred.

 

Nim

Active Identity Unknown
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Dismissal of a Question Son Goku and Yoshikuni Sadako

A short collab between Gerontis and Nim


  
Sitting in her room, Kuni was still thinking over everything that had occurred. It had been over an hour since, but it still felt like it was so much to take. Discovering she had yet more family, and ones that didn’t come looking for her, but rather for her mom and finding her instead. Moreover, they didn’t exactly come and slam the truth at her, but the other way around. She did to them what Haru had done to her. But they chose to still give her a chance, even if it was a more reluctant one after hearing more about her.

Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to be taken to the familiar space, with the cage in front of her, the shadows that were deep, and Son-Goku, who sat deep in there, most likely resting. Looking to the cage, she moved to her knees ”I’ve come to request to talk to you once more, Yonbi-sama. While I do not believe I have attained any new knowledge that will interest you, I wished to come and ask, should you be willing to offer it, for your opinion on a matter.” Kuni spoke to the cage, bowing towards it and hoping Son-Goku would show some kind of response.

It remained silent for several moments before a gust would pass Kuni, which was odd due to the location and no air current that should exist within the particular site. The gust would be followed by a low and deep grunt that seemed anything but pleased. ”Speak, human.” The beast grumbled from the dark of his confines, clearly already agitated that the teen came once more to disturb him.

Raising from the bow, Kuni briefly thought on what would be the best way to ask for his opinion, without him deciding outright that it is nothing more than mere petty human affairs that do not interest him ”I’ve come to ask for your opinion on the matter of blood relations. I have recently encountered a situation that presented me with others, who are connected to me by blood, yet I have never known them before. I have conflicting thoughts on if I should pursue learning more about those, due to the relation they have to me through blood, or if I should perhaps seek another reason before going through.” She said.

Looking to the cage, Kuni spoke up once more ”I want your opinion on how much value should I give a connection through blood, should you accept to offer it to me.”

Hearing what she wanted to request, the irritation of the beast didn’t ebb away. He held little sympathy nor saw much reason in aiding his host in matters that didn’t affect him. The question was met with a scoff. ”That is not my concern, that is my opinion. Your family is your own, human. Don’t bother me with your petty affairs.” There was some following sound after the brusque answer of the bijuu. Then it became completely silent from the dark side, behind the bars.

Hearing the response of the Yonbi made it very clear that she wasn’t going to get any further response from him. She was hoping for something a bit more, since he had been a witness to a history of bloody wars between humans over blood and family and countries, to a name a few. And then there was also the matter of the Bijuu being considered sort of ‘siblings’. They share something among them, considering the unique type of chakra that only runs through them, and yet, she can’t exactly know what kind of relationship those have among themselves.

Laying back, Kuni let out a small sigh. If she hadn’t done so many mistakes along the way, perhaps by now she would’ve had a better relationship with Son-Goku. Then again, that was making assumptions, and making assumptions and calling people in a direct manner were two things that were normally frowned upon.

”If a mole burrows through the ground blindly, how will it ever know if it is about to fall into a cave? I haven’t read that exact sentence, but something similar, which I think expresses how if anything moves forward without thought, then it is bound to fail. To drop and fall off the course it was going. I have fallen off the course I wished to pursue with you, Yonbi-sama, quite some time ago. I am aware of many mistakes I have done, and yet I still come back. Because I desire this connection with you."

"My question for your opinion was not about how I should deal with my affairs. It was about the value of blood. I wanted to hear about what you think the value of blood should be. Be it from your own experiences or what you have witnessed through the many, many years you have lived. You have so, so much knowledge you could offer. And I wish to learn from it.”

Having finished speaking, Kuni sat up and turned to face away from the cage. The silence that came from it made it quite clear that the beast had no desire to hear her out any further. It saddened her, but she still did not leave. She didn’t feel like leaving just yet.

 
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