It was raining. It always seemed to be raining in the Kagoshima prefecture these days. The young bhikkhuni's body had long since passed the point of numbness, and even the dull aches and pains were fast becoming a thing of the past. Her brightly colored coarse robes had long soaked through and chilled her to the bone, pooling around her and weighing her down like an anchor. Mariko Kurosawa held her upside-down body perfectly straight and level, resting the entirety of her weight on the broken post her hand was gripping, seemingly oblivious to the booming thunder and downpour of rain that threatened to undo her concentration. Instead Riko's thoughts were on her breathing, the long steady inhale and the slow controlled exhale that calmed her mind and cleared her head. Or would have. Above the distant trilling of the early morning's birds, footsteps behind her disturbed what had been her meditation. Although she would normally have ignored them, their distinct lack of subtlety intrigued her--no one who had survived long enough to get to this point would be that obvious. Slowly working a cramp out of her neck, Riko allowed her eyes to open for the first time in hours. It was only then that she realized how tired and miserable she was, as she stifled a yawn and gracefully lowered herself to the ground; a warm bed would soon be calling her name. Returning her attention to the presence behind her, she inclined her head to indicate that they should speak. For a few moments more silence remained, as Riko reached down to her belt to correct the position of her three swords: her daisho and a much larger nodachi that seemed to be unfit for a girl of her size. "When I'd heard that a former nun had moved into my territory, I had to get a look for myself," drawled a deeply masculine voice from over her shoulder, accompanied by another's chuckling. There was the clinking and clanging of charms and talismans as Riko lowered her hands back to her sides, her one wide sleeve concealing a length of prayer beads wound around her wrist. Already, she knew the intentions of these men--they were mercenaries out to collect the substantial bounty that had been placed on her head. About the only thing that was surprising to her was that they had made it this far to the abandoned shrine without killing themselves, as the steep cliffs of the mountain weren't kind to those who took them lightly. Either they had set up came there, or they were considerably lucky. The older of the two men was a ravaged, mangled son of a bitch with more scar tissue than skin, one eye covered by a roughly hewn improvised eyepatch. He grunts his frustration when the nun doesn't even bother to turn to regard him, glancing towards his much younger companion. The other man was no more than a boy, really, and a dim-witted one at that. About the only thing that had endeared him to his mentor was his uncanny ability to find even the most stubbornly hidden prey, and for that he'd earned his keep. "Hey!" the boy shouts at Riko, reaching forward to roughly grab her bare arm. "The man's talkin' to y--" His words end abruptly as the woman turns inside of his hold, one open hand going towards the hollow between his throat and shoulder and forcing him to the ground hard. The mercenary lands on his back with a heavy thud, surprise painting obviously on his features. He's back on his feet almost as quickly as he'd fallen, short sword gripped tightly in hand. As he thrusts it in towards Riko's abdomen her hands are there to grip the dulled blade, pulling back inward with the one nearest to her body to knock the boy off balance and into a hard kick to his gut. As he groans loudly the nun drives his weapon's hilt upward into his armpit as she twists his arm awkwardly, levering him over and onto the ground with his sword now held in her hands. The older man swears loudly as his partner lands sprawled and winded at his feet, taking down the matchlock rifle slung across his back. Recognition of the foreign weapon spreads across Riko's face as he levels it in her direction, the initial shot going mercifully wide with a thunderous blast of gunpowder that fills the area with smoke. Turning her head away from the stinging cloud, the woman considers her options, looking around for her method of escape.