[Rokugan] Mountain Pool

Chiyome retrieved her spear and as she rose, she shifted back to human form, wearing the clothes she'd worn when she'd changed. She didn't like using her hybrid or her animal forms. People always reacted so ... so badly. At least while she was human, she could blend in, do what she wanted without being bothered. She stood and studied him warily. One human was the same as another ... So, why was this one being so different? "The bandit leader. He's your brother." She let her words hang in the air. He was so determined to stay with--to stay around her. "... Why." There were so many questions attached to that "why" she couldn't even begin to ask them.
She was fast but he ran behind her managing to keep up. "Can't choose family can you?" he said taking a note of the direction they were heading. Seems the was heading for town, a risky strategy at best. "Do you even know where you're heading?" he asked dodging through the trees narrowly avoiding a branch as it whipped back from her grasp.

"If my brothers heard of the bounty on your head hes not likely to be the only one."
"I need to find out more about this bounty," she replied. If he was going to be stubborn, fine. But she wasn't going to make it easy for him. "Most importantly who made the bounty in the first place." She couldn't remember making anyone angry enough to put a bounty on her head. She kept to herself and she didn't borrow or steal. However, it wasn't like she went out of her way to make people like her.

Kuzan was right behind her so he nearly collided with her when she adruptly stopped. Before he could ask if something was wrong, he saw her pull something out of her neck. A dart! She looked at the feathers sticking out, orange and black, and looked in the direction it had come from. Her vision was already blurring and the world was shifting from side to side, side to side ... Her eyes rolled into the back of her head as she let the dart fall out of her hand and the ground rose up to meet her ...

"Great work." Murai stepped out of the bushes in front of them. He cocked his head to his brother. "Get her from Kuzan and then let's head back. there's no telling how long she'll be out. I'd rather she be in someone else's hands by then. Kuzan, brother, we just made ourselves a nice, hefty purse."
Kuzan far from celebrating a capture stepped over Chiyome's fallen form and interposed himself between her and his brother. "I'm not in your band and take no share in your earnings." he said.

Muzai paused. "Don't tell me you're worried about honor Kuzan."

"No not honor, we're ronin, but shes done nothing to deserve being handed over as a prisoner."

Muzai shook his head. His time away had made Kuzan even more of a naive fool. "So what would you have me do Kuzan? Let her go and let my men go hungry? We are not samurai Kuzan, ours is a harsher world where we do what we have to to eat."

"Shes traveling with me, isn't that enough to conciser her a friend, or at lease someone you wouldn't kill for gold."

"Shes not ever human Kuzan, shes a spirit, what do you care about her. You're acting like you're bewitched by her magic." Muzai spat on the ground after mentioning the foul magics bakaneko possessed. "Tell me kuzan, did she appear to you as a dead lover? Is what why you protect her?"

"For me Muzai, I'll take her and get out of your territory. Her and I will part ways. Then if she comes back I won't be here to stop you."

Muzai shook his head. Kuzan was always too stubborn for his own good and if he had a second dart he'd knock him out and take them both back to camp. Curse Kuzan for cutting up his bolas.

"Fine take her and go. It was nice seeing you Kuzan." he turned and led his men away but stopped when they were out of earshot. "Follow them and keep an eye on her. If she does anything to Kuzan she dies. Bounty or no."
Muzai and his men had left for just a few minutes when Chiyome's eyes snapped open! She bolted up, hands flailing, ready to cast a spell before she noticed that they were gone! She looked down at the sleeping dart she still held and clenched her fist with a growl, breaking it in half. The tip and the tail fell to the ground. Someone was going to pay for this ...

Without looking at Kuzan, she picked up her things and continued on her way. She wanted to scream, to cry, to beat the earth until her fingers bled. But it would be a waste of energy. She needed to discover who was behind this. She needed her life back.
Kuzan frowned. He'd just stuck his neck out for her and now she was leaving like something had happened. "Well maybe the guys who were trying to cash in on it before I asked them not to know something about it." he pointed out. "I get it you're the kind who likes to do things yourself but a little thank you or maybe even an acknowledgement that I'm not on your to strangle to death list would be nice." He was frustrated and more than a little angry. "Fine if its so important to go into the middle of a human town, as a peasant woman traveling alone, fine I've already saved you enough times. I'll be going into town but If anything happens to you in there you're on your own."
Curses! What was this feeling she couldn't shake?! Chiyome continued to stalk her way through the wilderness. Kuzan's words haunted her as the trees became more sparse and made way for small homes that became more common as she walked. The information she would need was most likely in the heart of town but she adruptly stopped when she remembered she had a bounty on her head. She ducked behind one of the homes and approached a woman hanging up her laundry.

The woman hummed softly to herself. Someone called her which forced her to pause and disappear inside. Chiyome glanced around and, not seeing anyone else, she slipped to the clothesline and helped herself. For this disguise, she'd need men's clothes. There were no shoes, of course, but the clothes looked big enough to hide her worn boots. She pulled the clothes over the ones she already wore, used Disguise Self spell to give her masculine features, shouldered her pack and her things and continued on her way.

The town was sprawling with people. It was the middle of the day and there were lots to do. There was shopping and trading and people gossiping. She noticed the bands of men relaxing and drinking. Bands of men carrying weapons and smelling of greed. Bounty hunters were everywhere ...
Kuzan blended in in the poorer area of town. With multitude of weapons and light armor making him look like just another bounty hunter, but there was something different about him ,something behind the eyes that the others lacked. Only at the moment his scowl matched theirs perfectly as he sat down at one of the outside table and let the glances of those already there. "A drink." he said as the other's turned back to throwing dice. Kuzan had the smell of a bandit, or a mercenary, both looked down upon by bounty hunters as grunts and oafs, this suited him fine, he hasn't here to talk. Still this was the kind of place you payed up front and in cash to he payed and drained the mug.

"Now heres a merc who has the look that says 'bastard skipped town without paying." said one of the bounty hunters slapping Kuzan on the shoulder. "Thats the great thing with bountys, they don't pay they don't get the prisoner.. alive." Kuzan didn't respond only to mutter and pay for another drink. He however never got to drink it as someone familiar walked past. One of the servants of the ignoble noble who his brother had hinted had placed the bounty. He stood and began following, maybe he'd be ably to find out why it had been placed.
The servant disappeared into the town's geisha house. There were many people here but he didn't pay any attention to them. Most were hired hands of his lord's as undercover bodyguards. One could never be too careful, especially with all the scoundrels about. He approached the host who gestured to one of the girls. She took the servant to a room in the back, a large private room with the only entrance being guarded by two large men. The servant disappeared to give his lord his report.

Meanwhile, Chiyome was asking around about all the bounty hunters. It was simple enough to do so without raising suspicion. People loved to talk and gossip and were always looking for more people to talk to. All she had to do was mention about how many mercenaries were hanging around and it got more than a few of the townspeople started. She then overheard two bounty hunters grumbling about how they'd been kicked out of the geisha house for "disturbing a noble's peace." A noble in a town swamped with mercenaries and bounty hunters ... yes, that wasn't suspicious at all ...
His path too led him to the geisha house but through the back. This was the part that was rarely seen by the public there costumes and performent milled about each waiting for their turn on stage. His path however was blocked as the woman slipped into a woman's only area. Kuzan sighed. He had come this far without knowing why but now here was something he could get behind. The challenge of sneaking into a woman's changing room.

Quick and silent he slipped into what looked like a private changing room for an important performer and instantly saw what he needed. An outfit modeled after the dress of the scorpion clan! The mask only covered the lower half of his face but the top covered his chest while leaving his stomach bare and there was very little on the bottom, just enough in fact but a grabbed cloth draped over his front like a veil for his crotch made it a bit less noticeable...

"Its been a while since I dressed like a woman." he said to himself stuffing the top with cloth until it appeared close to something sexy and without losing another second he dropped his belongins out the window into a flowerbed where he could get them later and slipped into the main room. Noone gave him a second glance, perfect. "Hey you, scorpion girl." Not so perfect.... "Dancer needed in room five, the scheduled one has a... customer."