[Rokugan] Mountain Pool



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It was perfect. A mountain lake fed by a small waterfall about several feet high at least a week's journey from the nearest human settlement in any direction. There were lots of trees and brush for cover although she didn't figure she'd need it. She hadn't seen another form of intelligent life for miles around. Intelligent life being a flexible term.

Chiyome, the cat hengeyokai currently in human form, began to undress. First she lay down her weapons and then her spell pouch and backpack. Her boots and outfit went next. She pulled her hair free and let it fall down her back. She couldn't wait until she got in! For her, a bath was more than washing. It was a chance for her to immerse in the element she so loved. The element that gave life only to suddenly take it away.

The water was cold and made her shiver. It was perfect. Hot water was overrated. Cold water meant purity, fresh, simple. She slipped one foot and then another. She wiggled her toes and let herself giggle at the sight of them through the surface. It felt so good to be able to relax and not have to worry about someone spying. Chiyome, the wu jen who took things seriously and never smiled. She took one step and then another until she was up to her neck and at the center. The rocks beneath her feet were smooth. It felt wonderful to just rub the bottom of her feet against them.
One hand holding the strap of his back pack to prevent it from cutting into his shoulder he crested the rise and was greeted with the sound of the waterfall. Still separated from the sigh of the pool by a boulder edges with bushes he eased the pack from his shoulders and his hand still around the strap carried the bad the rest of the way. Placing it down he removed the hand axe from his belt followed by his daisho wrapping them in a cloth and hiding them under one of the bushes, next came his bow and quiver quickly joined by his bracers, paldrons, chest and back plate and undershirt. Last was his grieves, books and pants along with the belt. He was ready for a bath.

He stood looking towards the edge of the cliff that the waterfall flowed down and took chose his place to start his run up, then a second later he was airborne his body curving in a graceful dive before he hit the water with a loud splash still unaware he was not alone.
Chiyome was in heaven. Or as close to heaven as she felt she was likely to ever see. She closed her eyes and floated on her back for awhile. The water all around her. The sun shining on her skin. Her body soaked it up and she was enjoying every minute of it. This ... this was what it was like to live ...


Water swished around her and she quickly bolted up! What was that?! Someone was going to pay for this! As soon as she saw a head emerge. she quickly cast the spell! "Elemental burst, water!" The water around her quickly formed a wave that pushed out towards the intruder.
The water enclosing his body was even cooler than the mountain air and he remained still as his body sank feeling it around him its cleaning and fables healing properties the reason he had climbed the mountain in the first place.

When his head broke the surface the first thing he saw was another was another head, then between then a wave rose and his first thought was it was one of the the spirits of the pool, but the head had looked too human. He dove underwater swimming close to the bottom holding his breath as the wave passed over him.

His head broke the surface again and this time he didn't wait for another spell to be cast and dove immediately swimming towards his attacker. With his bow at the top of the cliff he couldn't attack from range, and the only weapons he had were his hands. Whoever was attacking him weather spirit of Sugenja would answer why.
The wave came and went. But instead of a body being washed away, there was only the water dashing across the edges of the lake. Curses! The nerve of that ...! She was preparing another spell when the head popped up and she opened her mouth just as she was grabbed. She was grappled under water where she fought. The body on top of hers felt like it was made out of solid stone! And she couldn't change shape because that was difficult to do when one was being held without oxygen after being assaulted!

Chiyome kicked and pushed, scratched, punched, and even bit! Someone was going to pay. Someone was going to pay dearly! Air bubbles and her hair made it difficult to see who it was.
Three things surprised Kuzan as he dragged his attacker under water. First she was a woman, second she was naked, and third was the viciousness of her defense. His blood stained the water around a few places where her nails and teeth had pierced his skin but he resolutely held her down his teeth gritted against the strain of restraining her.

But he couldn't kill her. She could have just been another bather defending herself and Kuzan had to admit he wasn't exactly the well groomed samurai. He pulled her up her head breaking the surface and dragged her coughing and sputtering to the shore where he dumped her turning her on her side to make sure any water in her lungs could drain but holding her down. "I'm not here to attack you." he said "I didn't know the pool was occupied, now are you going to stop casting spells at me?"
One moment she was fighting for her life and breath. the next, she was being dumped on the ground on her side, panting. It took her a few minutes to compose herself. Think rationally. Do not jump to conclusions. Do not automatically assume he's a bandit. It could all be a misunderstanding. She suppressed the urge to smirk at her handiwork. She might not be a fighter but she figured she had done better than most wu jen. She took a deep breath.

"Fine. I guess it's only fair. You prevented me from drowning, even if you were responsible for dragging me down in the first place. Wait here." Chiyome wasn't a firm believer in modesty. First, she wasn't some weak human noble and second, she was always naked when she was in cat form anyways. The only reason she ever dressed was to keep warm. She returned with leaves and a jar of healing salve she'd made herself. She always had a jar of it in her backpack. It helped speed up the recovery rate and it was made from herbs she came across on her travels often.

"And since I gave you all those wounds, it's fair that I tend to them. Sit."
He acknowledged what seemed to be her form of reproaching thanks. He watched her walk away sure she wouldn't be coming back. After all is he had nearly been drowned by a stranger he wouldn't stick around. And yet she returned, still without her clothes. He didn't know which surprised him more. He had been ready to head back up the cliff before she returned with angry guys with more trouble than a bath was worth.

He looked down to the cuts on his arm, they were not serious and with the pure mountain water there was little chance of infection but he accepted her help reluctantly. "You don't have to." he said sitting nonetheless. "Though for what its worth I'm sorry for sneaking up on you like that.

She obviously had magic to have made that wave, the fact that he was still sitting here and not dodging more spells meant that he could trust her, to an extent.
She raised an eyebrow. It was a lot easier to be condescending when the target wasn't apologizing to you. She gave a small shrug. "Well, I enjoy my privacy." She smirked. "I get lots of it as you can see." She looked over her handiwork again. "They'll heal pretty quickly but better safe than sorry."

Chiyome used the leaves to clean the wounds and then applied some of the salve. She didn't need a lot and it didn't burn but it might have tingled. "My name is Chiyome. What's yours?"
The salve was cold and tingled against his skin as he watched her apply it. His skin was already covered with scars both small and large from his travels. "Thats something we have in common." he said before pausing. "Kuzan, my name is Kuzan."

He didn't give a family name indicative of his non-samurai status and he couldn't help neither had she, so she wasn't a Shugenja. "its rare to meet anyone up here. But then I haven't been around here long." he stood when she was done with his wounds, they were already feeling better. "You also seem to know your herbs." his voice showed he was impressed. A woman living alone in the wilderness and he'd be lying if he said his eyes hadn't appreciated her lack of clothes and if she wasn't shy she would see that.
Chiyome noticed the scars. So, he was a fighter. Amazing that the space in his head had a brain and not just more brawn. She chuckled. "You either bleed to death or you find out what works and stick with it." She finished applying the salve and stood. She wasn't shy and she wasn't a fool, either. Even way out here, in the middle of nowhere, you learned the ways of life and sex. With animals it was easier. Humans, as she'd seen in towns and the occassional cities, shared looks, touches. Subtle little games they liked to play, despite the short lifespan. She smirked inwardly. Too bad for him, he wasn't her type. Heh.

The wu jen closed the jar. Family name. No family name. Those human clans were too obsessed with honor and the like for their own good. She had yet to meet a samurai but perhaps that was just as well for the samurai. Less mess for her to clean up later. "So, Kuzan. I still need to take a bath and I'm going to guess so do you. I'm going on that side and so long as you stay on this side, I don't see why we can't use the pool at the same time."

And without a formal word of departure, she turned and disappeared back into the bushes, presumably to put the jar back and bury the leaves. No need to be hinting off animals that might follow the scent of blood in hopes of a meal. She returned a few minutes later, emerging from the bushes on the other side of the pool and slipped into the water where she swam out until she was up to her neck.

Oh yes, wonderful, wonderful bath ...
He waded out into the water and stood chest deep letting the water flow around him. He was yet to be able to form an opinion on this woman. She wasn't shy and yet wasn't overbearing. She conducted herself as someone attuned to a solitary life, something he could relate to. He dipped his head below the surface running his fingers though his unkept hair and rinsing it before he broke the surface again to swim an easy stroke further from the edge.

He was careful to leave the salve she had applied in place as he turned over to float on his back watching the waterfall as it rushed downwards.

"Its rare to find anyone up here." he said, that much was true the last time he had been here when he had first started his wondering journey. "Not a bandit are you, I hear Ronin bands are pretty common here." It would be just his luck to be found naked in a lake with a banbit king's concubine, though he really doubted even the wildest rouge could keep Chiyome.
Chiyome turned her head when he spoke, raising an eyebrow when she found him on his back. He seemed oblivious to the fact that his nakedness was sticking straight out like that (no pun intended). He was either really naive or just plain odd. Or maybe it was just a guy thing. But his next words made her thoughtful. "A bandit, eh. I should ask you the same thing. You might be out for some time away from your brothers and then where that leave me, a defenseless and innocent woman when so many men show up at the same time."

She really shouldn't have tried labeling herself as "defenseless" and "innocent." She knew it was a blatant lie but she didn't care. She could never pass off as a shy maiden, anyways. Then again, she'd never tried ... Oh well. She had better things to do than cater to someone else's whims besides her own. "There are tales of roving bands kidnapping women and using them for all sorts of foul purposes."
'That sounds like Mairu alright.' he muttered his words drowned by the sounds if the waterfall before he flipped over in the water and swan to the side. "If I'm a bandit, wheres my men?" he asked as he used a root to pull himself up onto the rocks by the cliff disappearing up its face. He was gone less than a minuet before he reappeared with a bundle and a bag climbing down the rocks and walking back to the water's leaving the bag, bow and quiver on the shore and kneeling and dipping a cloth into the water he began to clean the plates of his armor.

It was clear the armor was worn and old, and had never been painted in any clan's color but the daisho next to him he'd be executed for carrying and invite the anger of the spirits for merely touching unless they were his by birth and once he was done cleaning his armor he fished out a smooth stone from the poos and began sharpening his axe.
"I'm not a bandit. How should I know?" she replied. She turned onto her stomach and began to paddle through the water much like a dog. She wasn't in much of a hurry and she loved the feel of the water moving around her. She swam over to his side of the pool and spotted his weapons and his armor. She was interested in the daisho beside him. "Mm ... A man alone. With a daisho, no less. I don't see a lot of those around here." She couldn't help but be curious. She was a cat after all. The last time she had seen a daisho a samurai had been wearing it as he rode through one of the towns she was visiting.
"I didn't steal it if thats what you're thinking." he said inspecting the edge of the axe head. "Its been in my family a while." he didn't unsheathe the daisho, in its long history it had never needed to be sharpened. He left the armor to dry in the sun as he laid out his clothes to air. He still had clean clothes in his bag that he would change into before he went into the next town.

He was done with the pool at least for the moment and lay down in the warming ray of the sun, the warmth of the rock beneath him easting the tightness in his back. His lack of modesty was borne of a life in the wilderness only occasionally resting in any form of civilization. If Chiyome had shown more concern at his state of undress he would have put something on, but as it was it helped him unwind and the side effect of being surprised by her naked form had waned. If he were to open his eyes and see her again there was a large chance of it returning.
She smirked as he looked at his axe. It sounded like others may have believed he had. "I didn't say you did ... I'm just curious about it. Mm ... But what type of samurai has a bow and a daisho." She wasn't usually this curious about something but it wasn't everyday she met a man she nearly drowned only to help heal his wounds. She had traveled a great deal and although most samurai carried daisho, the type of samurai that carried a bow happened to be the exception.

When he lounged on a rock, she swam away and then swam around the edges of the pool. Kami, how she loved the water! She could swim until her skin turned as wrinkled as old fruit, even longer! "So, mysterious Kuzan, you don't appear to be afraid of female bandits arriving to ambush you lying so openly like that."
"The only one around is you and you've already had that opportunity." he said "Though if you're waiting until I'm asleep to 'ambush' me remember I can hear your movements in the water even with my eyes closed." it was hard to know how she meant her question, she hed shown no interest in him but at the same time didn't seen the innocent of naive type.

The climb up and the warm rays of the sun began taking their tole on him and it didn't take long for him to close his eyes and let his mind drift. He could hear her in the water and along with the waterfall it only have the effect more calming. He yawned despite himself. "You don't seem much worried about falling men."
Chiyome smirked at him as she swam away. He hadn't answered her question. How intriguing. But ... oh well. Their paths were unlikely to cross and she'd never see him again. That's how the life of a traveling wu jen went and it's how she liked things. Simple. No attachments. She could do what she wanted and no one could tell her otherwise.

She sighed softly as she made backward strokes. But as she swam, she noticed the clouds. Dark gray clouds heavy with rain. As she watched them, they grew in number until they blotted out the sky. Curses. Her spellbook. Hardy or not, she didn't want to risk it. She'd spent too long writing those pages and keeping them safe to lose them now. She made it ashore and slipped into her clothes, retrieving her things. She wondered if she should wake him up and warn him ...

But he looked so very comfortable! Chiyome grinned wickedly before she disappeared, heading further into the forest to a cave nearby. It was a small and empty. It would keep her dry until the storm passed and then she could be on her way. As she stepped inside, the first drops of rain fell and a crack of lightning ...
It was the thunder that roused him and made him dash for his clothes. He was just sliding the axe into his belt when the drops began to fall and he wrapped the precious wood of the bow in an oilcloth to keep it dry before grabbing his pack and heading into the forest. The tress had changed since his last visit but he knew where a cave was that he had often used for shelter. He headed there jumping from rock to rock then down into the trees heading strait for it's mouth.

It took his a moment to realize the girl had left without him. Pity her clothes might have provided a clue as to who she was. He marked it off as another encounter he'd wonder about. The mysterious naked girl of the mountain pond, some of him still wondered if she hadn't been a spirit of the place he hadn't met before.

He stumbled into the cave as the rain buffeted him blowing his hair into his face and forcing him to brush it out his eyes before he could see, and he was not expecting to see who had made it there before him.