View Full Version : Naruto d20 (Team A)
02-20-2007, 11:30 PM
The sun was high up in the sky, sending its bright rays of sunlight across the blue dome that covered the land. Clouds drifting about lazily as if unhurried about where they had to go and who they had to rain on. In the land squashed between the Land of Wind and the Land of Fire, a large collection of buildings marked the presence of one of the nigh-famous Hidden Shinobi villages. Concealed in the shadow of a massive overhang of stone and the huge tree that grew on its peak, a cool shade covered the town and most of the nearby lands in the valley. A large waterfall cascaded from the north end and became a river that travelled the entire length to exit out into forests and lakes. Birds flitted happily through the air and a quiet murmur was in the air. It always was, even if there was nobody actually awake and about, one mystery of this place.
A battered and burned wall surrounded this sleepy place, scars from battles long past marring its perfect white surface with three gates. One to the west, south, and north while the east side only had a gaping hole with construction crews scurrying about it. The interior of the village had the same scars as the wall that protected it though there was considerably more work done to repair the damages to it. Some buildings actually looked new and fresh. A sprawling noble complex with the symbol of the infamous Mibu clan. A tall and dome-like building in the center of the village, the residence and office of the village leader. And of course the Academy itself has been completely repaired and fixed. Fewer people then normal were bustling about the city but it was a healthy sort of buzz. The kind that showed that this village, despite its hardships was just beginning to recover from whatever tragedy had befallen it. Shops and restruants getting enough business to pull them by. Children playing in the street with toys. Wives or husbands putting clothes up on the line.
A simple day for many of the normal folk in the village of Kagekure, but it was one rocked by suspicion, scandal, and new faces. The entire village was abuzz with the news that three Jounin had gone missing from the village with naught a trace or sign of them. Supposedly the three teams of Genin under them were going to be getting new instructors today...
The heat was pleasant out today, not so hot for light clothes or too cold for heavy. That nice middle range that kids loved to play in and that people hated to waste by being idle. But this was no to be for three Genin. That morning a letter had been delivered to each child's home, detailing a small hill that most couples went to on dates. It overlooked a good portion of the village and it asked them to report there by noon to meet their new instructor. It was around 11:50 now...
((Giving you some time to arrive and talk to each other before your jounin arrives...))
02-21-2007, 12:07 AM
Chiba Michiko idly climbed the slope of this particular hill, her hands tucked into her pockets, making no particular haste to the designated meeting spot. Casting a casual glance around, she pursed her lips just slightly before plopping down onto the grass, resting an elbow on her knee and her chin in her hand.
She sighed contentedly, staring at the clouds, letting the breezes play with her hair. Not a bad day to start a mission.
"As long as I don't end up with some stuck-up prodigy, I don't think I'll mind."
Closing her eyes, she chuckled softly to herself as the wind whispered through the grass and she stretched, arms and legs splayed out in a carefree gesture, then sprawling lazily on her back, one leg crossed over the other, her arms tucked behind her head.
Not a bad day at all.
02-21-2007, 01:00 AM
Rio strolled calmly on his way. The music playing through his headphones was quiet, just enough to hear, not drown anyone out. Pausing a slight distance up the hill, he looked around for a moment. I wonder if I could get a sketch done before things get underway.
Dismissing the notion for the moment, he continued up the hill. As he neared the summit, Rio noticed another person laying down, admiring the clouds. Sliding the headphones off of his ears, he approached.
"Nice day for a first mission together, isn't it?" he asked, grinning before dropping to the ground near the girl.
"I'm Rio. How are you?"
02-21-2007, 07:45 AM
The tall teenager swathed in black from head to toe, calmly ascending the hill, was the last to arrive. He didn't seem to notice the wonderful day, what with the blank expression his mask and specially-made eye lenses afforded him. He did happen to crane his head towards the sky once or twice, letting the sunlight reflect off of the mirror-like goggles before his journey towards the others had ended. Once his goal was reached, he simply nodded towards the two genin and sat down about twenty feet away, pulling his legs into the lotus position and resting the chis-gatana in a wooden sheath he had had strapped across his back over his lap.
So these are my teammates? he thought idly, watching them from behind that impassive mask, his real face carefully hidden from them, the sunlight, the world.
02-21-2007, 07:57 AM
Michiko heard the boy's footfalls up the slope, and she murmured almost discontentedly. "So much for solitude." At least I'll soon know who I'll be working with. Her mouth twisted wryly. And if they're tolerable.
She seemed to ignore his question, and after a moment she opened one eye, appraising the boy with an casual incuriosity before shrugging and returning her gaze to the clouds. She didn't even turn to address him, speaking with a quiet indifference.
"You're not exactly quiet, you know. And those headphones are a great way to walk face-first into an ambush."
She sat up and chuckled to herself, offering a small, self-satisfied grin.
"I'm Chiba Michiko, and you won't find a better scout than me."
Cocking her head, Michiko's gaze flickered over the dark-robed boy cradling his sword. She pursed her lips to suppress another laugh, settling for an amused smile. There's always one. Raising her voice to carry, she waved a quick hand at the sitting boy.
"Hey! You goin' to a funeral, or do other colors just make you look fat?"
02-21-2007, 10:51 AM
"Going formal, are we? Fine then, I'm Takahara Rio, tactics are one of my specialties. Good to see someone has a sense of humour. Last teammates were far too serious. Oh, and thanks for the warning on the headphones. I'm sorry if I didn't see the inherent danger in approaching my soon to be teammates in a secure area on a bright day. I'll endeavour to learn from your pristine example," he remarked dryly before laughing. "But seriously, nice to meet you, and I'm sure we'll get along fine."
Noticing the dark clothed youth, Rio surpressed a chuckle at Michiko's comment. Waving to the other youth slightly, he called out to him, "Hey! Come on over man, have a chat with us. What's your name, anyways?"
02-21-2007, 04:53 PM
There was a significant pause as the boy in the mask turned to look at the other two genins, or more specifically Michiko, once more. One obviously couldn't read his facial expressions, but from the stiffness in his back he either looked annoyed or in some kind of pain.
"It was on sale." came his startingly baritone reply, cutting across the intervening distance like a knife. There was something off about it, though, and it didn't have anything to do with the mask mucking up the words. His w's, m's, and b's came out in a sort of whispering hiss. The cause wasn't immediately apparent, however.
It was then that he rose to his feet straight from that complicated sitting position, unfolding his legs and standing in the same motion like he was a puppet being pulled up on strings. Slipping the sword onto his back, he closed the gap in an unhurried stride and approached Rio.
"I am Ibaraki Masaru. Pleased to meet you." he bowed just his head and shoulders politely, but awkwardly, as if he wasn't used to performing the gesture. Almost as an afterthought, he looked over and nodded to Michiko as well.
02-21-2007, 08:36 PM
A branch creaking in tree on the top of the hill was almost immiedetely identifiable to the three Genin. Up in the tree a kid sat on a branch, kicking his feet back and forth before jumping down from the branch to land at the base of the tree. A Kagekure headband was wrapped around his left thigh like a bandage signified him as some kind of ninja. Probably an Academy student from the looks of him. Black hair seemed to stick out everywhere as if he had just woken up and red streaks were throughout the mess of it.
"Hi!" He said cheerfully as he looked over the assembled Genin before counting them off on one finger. "One...two...three..Alright..now I just need to wait.." What he was waiting for became abudantly clear as he looked down at a plain looking wrist watch. It was exactly noon before he moved again.
Pine green eyes stared at the three as he reached behind himself and withdrew an envelope.
Opening it, he pulled out a slip of paper and coughed before began reading from it. "Greetings Genin. Unfortunately I will not be able to join you for our first meeting, not until later. Urgent business has occupied my time. For the time being please get to know each other. My little brother will give you my instructions once you have. -Keimatsu" He said in a light tenor voice and clutched the letter, which obviously held more documents, to him as if it was a life saver. "Any questions?"
02-21-2007, 08:55 PM
Michiko arched a disapproving eyebrow at the boy, but if she was otherwise irritated, it did not show, and she stood in one fluid movement, resting a gloved hand on her hip, regarding him with a blue brook-no-nonsense gaze.
"Unless you plan on divulging were your brother is or what exactly was so important to keep him occupied, you could start by explaining what else is in that letter."
02-21-2007, 09:10 PM
The boy (looks no older then 12) blinks as he is met with the no nonsense look from the older girl before blinking slowly. "My teacher and brother always told me that your supposed to keep news about high ranking missions secret. So I can't tell you where he IS only where he WILL be. And the rest of the things in the letter are supposed to wait. It has your mission in it."
02-22-2007, 01:14 AM
Not having moved from over where he was by Rio, Masaru observed the young boy quietly. He had been quiet enough in that tree that none of the other Genins had spotted him until he chose to reveal himself. It said something about the skill of the boy's brother and teacher that he could do that. It made Masaru...eager...to begin his missions and training with the Jounin, but he was also curious about the child as well. For all he knew, the little boy could be a Chuunin himself, a prodigy. He had no idea.
"What's your name?" he asked the boy quietly, clasping his hands in front of his belt and trying to look as unfrightening as possible. It wasn't easy, considering the wide shoulders, black bodysuit, armor, and impassive blank mask he always wore. His sword he attempted to keep behind him, making it look more like a cane than a martial instrument.
02-22-2007, 01:40 AM
The kid held Michiko's gaze for a long second before turning to the black form of Masaru. Traveling up his body until he was looking the older boy in the face he coughed and blushed lightly. "My parents named me Ami."
02-22-2007, 01:57 AM
The black-clad ninja inclined his head towards the boy, balling a fist and palming it with his other hand in a small martial art sign of respect among peers. Since the boy was, at the very least, a genin and a fellow shinobi, it applied. "Ami-kun, would you please tell us what we should do next?" he asked evenly, no evidence of any kind of patronizing evident in his flat, deep voice.
02-22-2007, 11:25 AM
Rio sat back, paying attention to what the boy said, and Masaru's conversation.
"Yeah, yeah. We should get things going, I suppose. We've all introduced ourselves, so what's the next part, Ami?" he asked.
He chuckled towards Michiko. "He's under orders from his brother, who just happens to be a jounin, our jounin, so let's ease off of him a bit. Besides, we can always take it up with his older brother later. Might be good for a laugh," he grinned.
02-22-2007, 12:24 PM
Michiko shrugged casually at Rio, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her gray jacket, offering the kid an appraising look.
"You must have something more than what you've told us, Ami. Otherwise, Keimatsu-sensei would have instructed you to explain his absence and then leave."
She leaned forward slightly, an expectant look in her eyes, the hint of a grin touching the corners of her mouth.
"So whatcha got for us, kid?"
02-22-2007, 03:09 PM
Ami looks around at the assembled ninja, as if seeing if they want to spend more time or not, before nodding and opening up the envelope once more. This time he removed three shinobi tags from inside of the envelope and held them out to the Genin. "Next, your supposed to put on these tags. Onii-chan said their supposed to remain on you during the course of the entire mission. If they fall off then your mission has failed."
He waits patiently for the three to take the tags before pulling out a sealed scroll from inside of the envelope, seal unbroken, and holds it out as well. "And this has your mission on it."
02-22-2007, 03:28 PM
Michiko reached out to pluck one of the tags from the boy's grasp, turning it over in her hands with a curious look.
"These are some sort of seal, I think..." she murmured tracing the calligraphy with her finger. Looking up, she shot a questioning glance to the boy, then frowned. "Should I even bother asking you what they're for?"
With a sigh, Michiko let the charcoal-grey jacket fall off her shoulders, revealing her form-fitting mesh beneath and unceremoniously stuck the seal between her shoulderblades. Shrugging back into her jacket, she arched an eyebrow at the boy with a level stare.
"There. Now what's this 'mission' all about?"
02-22-2007, 03:58 PM
Reaching out to Ami, Rio took one of the tags. Examining it closely, Rio stiffens slightly. (Craft: Calligraphy check to determine the type of tag 1d20+15=30 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=887001) success!)
With a tiny grin, Rio chuckles. "Heh. These are sealing tags. If they get activated, we lose the ability to use any chakra control, ninjutsu or genjutsu techniques. We also will have a far more difficult time of using chakra to activate anything, such as my own tags. Luckily, they can not be activated until the activator is within ten feet of the tags."
Rio removes his shoe and seals the tag to his foot before replacing his shoe. "Still, an order is an order. I wonder what your brother has in store for us, eh Ami?" he asked, reaching out a hand for the scroll. Taking it from Ami, he unseals the scroll, and begins reading.
02-23-2007, 12:52 AM
Masaru didn't seem to react to the revelation of the seal's purpose. In fact, he almost didn't seem to be listening. He simply internalized the knowledge and at last, he nodded softly in acknowledgement.
Letting the others handle the scroll, Masaru took the last tag Ami passed out to him and turned his back on them. He walked around to the other side of the tree in order to lift his mask for just a moment and slap the tag onto his forehead before pulling it back into place. He figured that was about the safest possible spot for the seal, since he wouldn't be taking his mask off any time soon.
Shifting his sword to the other shoulder, Ibaraki returned to the group to recieve the details of their mission.
02-23-2007, 01:22 AM
Michiko cocked her head as she watched Masaru slip behind a tree, bearing a look of casual interest. He must have major skin issues. She tapped her foot impatiently as she waited, crossing her arms with a twist of her mouth, the tag between her shoulderblades seeming to itch, and she shrugged irritably as if to subdue the feeling.
This is hardly a real mission. It's just another ridiculous test by another weirdo Jounin with more creativity than practical sense. She sighed and shook her head to no one in particular. When am I going to be taken seriously as a ninja? There's no way to prove myself worthy of tough missions if I never get the chance to go on any in the first place.
Noticing that the black-clad boy had returned--she shot him a quick glare--Michiko turned to Rio with an expectant glance, raising her brows in a silent question.
"Well now that Tall, Dark, and Anti-Social is back, how about you share what's in that scroll?"
It's going to be stupid, I just know it.
02-23-2007, 01:48 AM
Once Marasu had returned to join the other two, Ami seemed to lose interest in the whole thing. Instead he went back up into the tree and resumed his spot on the branch.
Scrolled across the inside of the scroll, in rather sloppy hand writing:
"By now I shall assume that you've heard the basic instructions that I have given to Ami. I'm sure that these seems like some sort of childish quiz, but I assure you that I am deadly serious about it. You'll figure out, as you grow as ninja, that you'll acquire enemies from the missions that you complete. It is because of this that I ask a favor of you. I fear that some old foes have taken advantage of the fact that I am not in Kagekure to deal me a personal blow and have targeted Ami as the source of their rage. Unfortunately, the nature of the mission I'm on requires me to stay on task and I cannot return to protect him personally. He's not even aware of this threat, and I would prefer he remains that way. Your mission is protection and escorting. I have established safe housing for my brother by the east gate of the village and its your duty to escort him there. While no actual shinobi may have been hired its a very real probability that thugs have, be wary and alert. The tags I gave you will suppress your chakra signatures and make you stand out less to unfriendly eyes, once their activated that is. Before you begin your mission, activate the seals and proceed immiedetely to the safe house, you'll know it when you see it. I know I limit you with these tags so I give you allowance to use any force required to complete the task as fast as possible. -Keimatsu
Rio read the scroll carefully, then once more before holding it out more to give Michiko and Masaru a chance to read it themselves.
02-23-2007, 03:24 AM
The black-clad teen caught and held Michiko's stare when he returned, challenging her to say something about what he hid from them. He followed her with the mirrored-lenses of his mask as she strolled back to Rio and displayed more of her charming wit by ridiculing him again. Only when she had been given time to read the document did he draw nearer to Rio and peruse the scroll himself.
When Masaru had finished reading, he nodded to Rio in a wordless attempt to get him to put the scroll away. It wouldn't be prudent to let Ami read something alarming over their shoulders. Of course, Masaru would rather have told the child everything, but as their instructions were quite specific, Ami would just have to be kept in the dark.
Sensei is putting the safety of his family in the hands of a team of genin he has not even met yet? I wonder if this is all just a test? Nevertheless, we cannot afford to fail.
02-23-2007, 10:11 AM
Michiko met the boy's eyes--that mask was rather disconcerting--and flashed him a toothy grin and a wink. What a weirdo. Reading over Rio's shoulder, Michiko nodded to herself in understanding, though a frown slowly began to crease her features. She stood pursing her lips and staring at no one in particular, arms crossed across her chest and she tapped a foot in consternation.
This sounds reasonable, but there's too many unanswered questions here for me to buy it at the market price. If Ami is in danger, why send him outside the village unprotected to find us? Why us, and not a more experienced squad? And if the seals are only to suppress our chakra signatures, then why would the mission fail if we removed them? And at that, what kind of assassins are we facing that can sense individual chakra signatures, especially in a village full of ninja? There's something else going on, but I need to find out more before I'm sure.
Turning to Rio and Masaru, Michiko caught both of their eyes, muttering as softly as she could. "Watch, and play along."
Walking casually towards the tree where Ami reclined, Michiko smoothed her face to stillness, then displayed a mischievous smile. The kid's got to know something, and he has to follow us one way or another.
"You plan on sittin' in a tree all day? Let's go get some lunch in the village, I'm starving!"
02-23-2007, 10:25 AM
The kid seemed surprised that Michiko was speaking to him again, pausing before falling out of the tree once more. Landing lightly he walked over with a dubious look on his face. "Uh.....won't this interfere with your mission? I don't want to get you in trouble..." He said slowly.
02-23-2007, 10:35 AM
She shrugged and waved a dismissive hand. "Nah, it doesn't start for a while, so there's no harm. And unless you have a bento or four stuffed down your pants, it looks like the best place to get some food is back in the village."
Grinning, she gestured for him to follow as she made her way back to where Masaru and Rio were standing.
"Honestly, I think your brother would want you to hang out with us. We'd be quite the positive influence on your development," she chuckled. The development of you not winding up dead.
02-23-2007, 11:04 AM
After the others had been able to read the scroll, Rio rolled it back up and put it away.
This doesn't make much sense. Tactically, he should have sent Ami to another squad, one which could better protect him. He doesn't even know our abilities. And yet, we can't afford to take the chance. I don't even know what these two can really do. Time to find out I suppose.
"Hey, Ami, wait there for a minutes, I just have to ask these two something about the mission."
Making sure he catches the eye of Masaru and Michiko, Rio activates his seal and immediately feels his chakra level diminish. It is a disconcerting feeling, but apparently a necessary one.
Leaning close to Michiko and beckoning Masaru closer he whispers, "Michiko, you told me you're a scout right? We'll need you keeping a good eye out. The scroll says Ami is not to know about the danger, and the best way for that to be is if we avoid conflict. We're definitely going to need your eyes here. Masaru, sorry, but I have no idea what you have for talent. Though with that sword, if we run into trouble, you may have to deal with it."
Rio straightens up and flashes a grin towards Ami, "Yo, Ami. Let's go get some food huh? I'm pretty sure we can get some at this place by the east gate. Let's get a move on."
02-23-2007, 12:07 PM
The kid looked ready to follow after Michiko to the others when he was asked to stay back and wait for a couple of minutes. Standing there a bit listlessly before walking back up when Rio spoke to him. "If you guys don't think it'll be a problem then I guess I could...We can't go out too long though, I have night training with my sensei at eight.." He said with a shrug, not seeming to care either way. Apparently his only mission here had been to deliver the letter..
((For come clearing up, the hill your on is IN the village, but its higher up then most of it.))
02-24-2007, 02:34 AM
Nodding curtly to Rio, Masaru fell into step beside Ami, trying to make it look as if he was just going along with the group. He figured since the others tended to blend into crowds more easily, they could take the wings. Masaru would put himself into the most awkward situation he could think of and try to make friends with a child...
02-24-2007, 11:48 AM
Michiko gives a quick nod to Rio, casting a perfunctory glance around the area before falling in stride. Though a small knot of worry had begun to form in the back of her mind, she refused to acknowledge it, instead donning her usual cheeky grin.
Spot check: 1d6+6=7 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=889530)
Listen check: 1d6+6=11 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=889532)
"The East gate? The tea shop there has great unagi." She chuckled, nudging Ami in the ribs, "Since we're showing you the way, you get to pay for lunch."
02-24-2007, 12:39 PM
Ami looks up towards Michiko with a surprised look when she mentions that he'd have to pay for lunch, brow furrowing for a moment before he continued along beside Masaru. Grumbling under his breath about "cheap Genin" and "freeloaders" as they went down into Kagekure.
Michiko kept an eye out on the spattering of people on the streets, looking for suspicious activities and finding none. Though there were a couple of moments that aroused suspicion such as seeing a Shadow Chuunin or Academy student on the street.
Kagekure seemed to get into worse and worse condition as they approached the east gate district. Repairs had been done on most of the rest of the city except for this place. It had born the brunt of the attack and most of the families or individuals who had lived here before hand had perished in the attack. With no residents to live there it kept the rebuilders of the village reluctant to fix up "empty vessels" as they called them. It was hard not to think about these things as the four kids walked through the buckled and unnervingly smooth streets. "Their wrong you know...Onii-chan and I keep on hearing the complaints about this district, about the money it'd take to fix empty homes but their not empty...people put their lives into making these buildings..they raised families in them...and people died protecting this place. Did you know East District used to have two hundred and twenty residents by itself? Thats almost half of the villages current population...and close to forty shinobi died trying to push the enemy back at this invasion point. To defend these homes. Make ya sad, doesn't it?" Ami remarked, green eyes going from building to building as if watching something only he could see and hear. Abruptly he turned to Masaru. "Hey...I don't know anything about you...are you a good swordsman?"
02-24-2007, 02:11 PM
The masked genin had remained silent throughout the walk, head straight ahead as Ami kept telling him about the East Gate District. He didn't really have to though...Masaru knew it well. The gutted remains of his clan home remained at the center of the district, a broken set of high walls surrounding a staggered cluster of buildings that used to be flushed with healthy green gardens. It was all scorched and blackened now, the skeletons of trees looking like gnarled hands reaching from the earth. He walked stiffly as he caught site of the highest building, the shrine that had once stood at the center.
Ami's questions interrupted his train of thought, forcing him to focus on the present. It took him a few moments to figure out what Ami had asked him, and when he did, he looked at the sword as if it had suddenly appeared on his shoulder. He let out a short chuckle and only said, "It's possible." in reply.
In fact, the reason he carried the sword was that it made people think disarming him would limit his ability to strike back. It left they all the more open to an unarmed strike when they thought he was helpless. A shinobi's greatest strength was deception, after all.
"I used to live here." he added quietly, still a bit struck by how empty everything was. He could remember playing with his brothers on these streets...running and laughing. He had been whole then...unbroken and happy. How things had changed...
(( Spot and Listen: 1d20+1=20, 1d20+1=13 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=889678) ))
02-24-2007, 03:20 PM
The younger kid's face became sympathetic as he looked up at his darkly dressed guardian. It didn't take much for someone to know the pain from the loss of a family member and from Marasu's tone thats what had happened. "Did you lose family in the attack too? Or did they make it out?"
02-24-2007, 04:12 PM
Masaru didn't answer right away. In fact, it looked as if someone had punched him in the gut, but he kept it together behind that implacable black mask. His fingers slowly tightened around the wooden sheath of his sword, however. The grain groaned and started to crack a little under the pressure.
"That's my home, just there." he said, lifting an arm to point at the graveyard that was the Ibaraki compound. Ami would know it. Everyone did. It was rare for anyone in the village not to have heard about the tragedy, the entire clan butchered in the attack. It had happened before, and not just in the Village of Hidden Shadow, but each time it was a sad story...especially when there remained a lone survivor. For Masaru it was like an open wound, festering with the infection of revenge.
"Let's talk about something else, okay, Ami-kun?"
02-26-2007, 11:52 AM
The kid spent a long moment staring at Masaru before nodding and looking around again, mostly towards the destroyed compound before looking away. "Alright Masaru-sempai. We'll talk about something else...so..." his words drifted off though and an awkard silence fell between the two of them. It didn't take much longer for them to find the unagi shop. It looked fairly empty and one of the waitresses was standing outside the entrance trying to encourage people to come in. It was only then that the kid spoke up again. "So what is your guys mission? I love hearing stories about past missions. You learn all kind of neat tricks and tatics, not to mention their just plain exciting. You guys have any?"
Marasu continued to keep an eye on their surrondings as they went to the entrance of the unagi shop when something caught his eye. A group of nasty looking thugs were loitering perhaps forty feet down the street from the shop. There wasn't anything particular about them but they seemed...off.
02-26-2007, 02:53 PM
The bleakness of the East Gate district hardly seemed to affect the girl at all; she had a certain lightness to her step, paying no particular mind to the charred husks of buildings or the passersby, few and far between as people were in this desolate part of the city.
The restaurant had surprisingly spared the fate that had befallen the majority of the East Gate, though the amount of patronage since the attack had been meager at best. The food was certainly good enough to draw a sizable crowd, but the gloom surrounding the district prevailed, most not eager to relive the tragedy.
Unperturbed, Michiko gave a perky grin to the girl standing outside, jerking a thumb towards Ami and the others. "Hiya, Ayaka! Brought some lunch customers with me today, as you can see." She chuckled, "Think you can find us an open table?"
Nodding towards Ami, she gestured to the doorway. "C'mon, I got plenty of wild stories, kid."
02-26-2007, 03:12 PM
Rio had spent much of the trip in silence, deep in thought, not only calculating how far they had to go, but pondering something else inhis mind. With their arrival to the unagi shop, Rio estimated that they didn't have very far left to go. But, it might be good to stop here for a minute.
So, with a cheerful smile, he headed towards the door of the shop, casting one last glance around to see any impending threats while looking questioningly at Marasu and Michiko.
"Wild stories, huh?" he laughed towards Michiko. "These I gotta hear."
02-26-2007, 03:30 PM
Ayaka smiled as she saw Michiko and gestured into the building. "I think you'll have your free pick of tables today Michiko, we're even less busy then usual!" She said dryly while gesturing with one arm into the unagi shop. The inside only proved her claims, there being three other patrons at best.
Ami nodded gravely as he heard about the possibilities of wild stories and hurried into the restraunt. The glimmer of excitement in his eyes didn't do his grim look justice though as he hurried to a corner table and sat down facing in the same direction as the kitchen. "I think I'd love to hear those stories Michiko-senpai. I'm sure that a Genin like you has plenty of exciting stories about missions to talk about."
02-26-2007, 07:53 PM
Fortunately, Michiko saved Masaru from having to explain their mission, and he let his teammate take Ami into the restaurant without protest. It gave him the opportunity to examine the toughs gathering on the other side of the street. They didn't look to be ninja but any one of them could be in disguise. Either way, there was something just...wrong...about them. He could sense it, and he always went with his instincts about things like this. He looked up and down the street once more before heading in after the others.
Once inside, he made sure to catch Rio's ear. "Suspicious characters loitering down the street. We shouldn't stay here."
02-26-2007, 09:31 PM
Rio keeps his smile on and nods ever so slightly at Masaru's words. "Hay, Michiko, keep telling those stories. Masaru just has something he wants me to see. We'll be back soon," he grinned, hoping she caught the undertones.
Rio headed towards the door with Masaru. Once the two were both outside, he noticed the group that Masaru must have meant. Remembering well that Ami was to not know about any danger, Rio makes a quick scan in an attempt to find anything that may help them get Ami past without any danger.
((Search or Knowledge: Tactics, same mod 1d20+11=30 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=893217), Spot 1d20+3=16 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=893222)))
Regardless of if he notices anything or not, he will then head back into the building and return to the table.
02-27-2007, 10:52 AM
Michiko gave a quick wave and a smile to the owner before making her way to a table in the corner of the restaurant, settling herself to have a clear view of the doorway. She gestured to the seat across from her, motioning for Ami to sit. "Have a seat, kid. I'm gonna pop into the kitchen real quick and put in our order." She grinned, "Right at the top of the list."
She casually strode to the back of the restaurant, exchanging brief nods with the other patrons, though they hardly seemed much for conversation. Ducking her head into the kitchen, Michiko waved to a few of the dishwashers before seeking out the head chef, also the owner of the restaurant.
"Kazuma-jiji, it's me! You still serve food in this dump?" She gave him a toothy grin, leaning against one of the counters. Michiko had been visiting this restaurant since she was small and Kazuma was an old friend of her mother's, so the girl was almost a fixture in the kitchen. He was hardly old enough to be called "old man," but Michiko did anyway, if only to make the other cooks laugh.
"Listen Kazuma, my new squad and I are looking after Keimatsu-sensei's kid brother, and I just wanted to let you know that there might be a lil' bit of trouble. We're taking him somewhere here in the district, but I figured he'd be safe here while we look around. You mind having the staff keep an eye out for me? I can't help shake the feeling that this kid's gonna be attracting trouble." She adopted her cheekiest smile as she turned to head back to the dining room, gesturing to the dish Kazuma was working on. "And how about some of your unagi? I'm starvin'!"
02-27-2007, 12:16 PM
At the Door:
Masaru and Rio stand at the doorway of the unagi stand, keeping eyes out for anything that they can use for their mission. Not to mention keeping their eyes on the 'toughs' standing down the street from them. An uneasy sort of silence had fallen over the street as people seemed to feel the electricity in the air and retreated to their homes. Masaru and Rio both knew the almost maze-like quality of Kagekure's streets had for newcomers, a result of constant rebuilding, and at least three alleyways and streets lead away from this spot from the front...
In the back:
The other cooks couldn't help but chuckle as Michiko came into the back and called their boss an old man. For his part Kazuma seemed involved with making an unagi dumpling, looking up as the blonde haired kunoichi came walking into the back with nary a warning. "What have I said about just barging in back here Michiko? Can I at least get some warning? Chance to hide my illegal dealings?" He joked lightly as he pulled the eels off of the grill. Looking up from his work as Michiko mentioned trouble, a frown coming to his face. "What sort of trouble? The 'Some-bullies-break-a-few-dishes' trouble or 'Kazuma-better-call-the-police-trouble'?" He asked moodily before holding out the dish. "Here, and tell Ami not to drink to much. I know how he gets."
02-27-2007, 03:59 PM
The girl shrugged in response to Kazuma's question. "Dunno. Depends on how bad they want the kid. You still got that back door to the alley? If things get rough, I'd like to sneak Ami through the kitchen and out the back." She chuckled and took the dish from his outstretched hand. "I can't promise to avoid a mess, but if it happens, put it on my tab, alright?"
She thumbed her nose with a cheeky grin and turned to head back to the dinning room, plate in hand, weaving her way around bustling cooks and dishwashers.
02-27-2007, 04:10 PM
Returning to the table, Rio replaces his smile and sits with Ami.
"Hey Ami, sorry about that. Where'd Michiko go? Don't tell me she's done with her stories already," he laughed.
Leaning back in his chair, Rio kept an eye out towards the door and street at all times. I hope this place has a back door of some sort. If we can keep him out of sight of those thugs, we should be okay. Hope everybody remembered to activate their tags.
As he chatted with Ami, Rio pulled out a pen and started drawing on a napkin, drawing out possible escape routes based on contingencies such as having a back door, splitting up, no back door, using the alleys, smoke bombs, whatever comes to mind. Well, the scroll only said that it was preferred Ami not know of the danger. I'd rather have him know and us succeed than not know and, well... Ah well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
02-27-2007, 09:15 PM
The masked ninja remained outside, arms crossed over his chest. He was a silent gargoyle, a sentry against those that would try to cross the threshold with the intent to do harm. Masaru didn't really cultivate and skill at intimidation, but his appearance was just unnerving. He never moved at all, not even to scratch or shift his weight. He simply guarded the door, as someone had to. The others would come let him know when it was time to leave.
02-27-2007, 09:33 PM
"I don't know where she is. Michiko hasn't come back out of the kitchen yet. I wonder what happened to her..Hey...weres Marasu?" He asked, alternating between peering towards the back of the restraunt and trying to look out the front to see what the black dressed genin was doing out there.
Kazumu stoke his knife into the counter beside his hand as Michiko thumbed her nose at him, giving an exasperated "Your tab is already overdue Michiko!" out to her back as she returned to the restraunt porition of the store carrying the dish.
Out on the street Masaru could see one of the thugs reaching into his pocket, pulling out...something in one hand and the rest of them gathering around him. Pointing at something on the screen, one of them nodded and pratically as one they rose their eyes up to look at the front of the store...
((Chronic, need a spot check.))
02-27-2007, 11:52 PM
Appearing at the mention of her name, Michiko popped her head out of the kitchen's door, casting a quick glance around the dining room before settling down at the table with Rio and Ami, placing the heaping dish in front of them.
"Eat quick, our mission may start sooner than expected." She nodded her head towards the door she had emerged from, nonchalantly chatting as she helped herself to the food. "The owner of this shop, Kazuma-san, is a friend of my mom's; I've been coming here for years." She gave Rio as pointed a look as she could manage without giving Ami any suspicions. "He'll let us take the back way out through the kitchen if we have to leave quickly." Casually, she added "Did you happen to find out where we have to take our 'delivery?' Or who wants to meet us on the way?"
02-28-2007, 10:39 AM
"We don't have an exact address, but I'm fairly certain we're close. And as for people who are planning to meet us on the way, there are some..... interested parties out in the street. Make sure you activate your tag, that way, if they can somehow sense chakra, we get a bit more of an advantage."
Rio stands and stride to the door, where he can whisper to Masaru the information about the tags. "There is a back door out. Michiko has been permitted to take Ami out that way if there is a rush. Any ideas on how we should divide our forces?"
Straightening a bit, he said that to Michiko as well, "You too, any ideas on who should go where?"
03-01-2007, 09:19 PM
Spot: 1d20+1=18 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=898482)
Chakra Control: 1d20+9=23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=898469)
Masaru nodded once and touched both fingers to his forehead, lacing them together to form a seal and activate the tag he'd placed upon his brow. He felt a tingle of chakra and then nothing as the tag went active. Once finished he glanced back at Rio, who he assumed was still in the doorway, and advised, "So weakened, we should take Ami-kun out the back and try to avoid a confrontation. We want to leave direct combat as a last resort and instead use a deception tactic." He thought silently for a moment. "I could cause a disturbance and lead them off, then double back towards the East Gate to follow you."
03-02-2007, 12:18 AM
Marasu kept a close eye on the toughs down the street from him, noticing that two of their number had tried to creep away sneakily into an alley close to them. Where the alley lead to was anyone's guess but he doubted that two of them had simply gotten cold feet and ran off...
It wasn't the only thing he noticed, when Marasu activated the tag behind his mask, the thug carrying the something looked down. Apparently it was telling him something he didn't want to know because he shook it in his head and scowled at it...
Ami seemed content with the unagi pie/biscuit in front of him, digging into it with relish and only sparing idle glances up towards the two genin in the restraunt with him as they talked about a delivery of some sort. "What delivery? Is that what your guys mission is?"
03-02-2007, 12:45 AM
The masked ninja's mirrored lenses watched as the two thugs attempted stealth and failed miserably. Still, they might have been trying to flank the genins...and without following them, no one would know. Even more interesting was the device the leader seemed to be paying close attention to.
When I activated my seal, it looked like he'd noticed something. Are they tracking our chakra signatures with that thing?
Masaru scowled and checked over his shoulder to see if Rio was still at the door. He didn't want to raise his voice and risk Ami overhearing something.
03-02-2007, 03:52 PM
Michiko shrugged her jacket off her shoulders enough to reveal the sealing tag and reaching over her shoulder, she pressed two fingers to it and concentrated her chakra, letting out a slow breath.
Chakra Control: 1d20+9=27 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=899612)
"There," she opened her eyes and settled her jacket comfortably, leaning her chair back. Nodding to Rio, she cast a quick glance to Masaru at the entrance and then to the kitchen door. "Something tells me that we should make our delivery as soon as we can, and then meet up with 'em. I can keep an eye out for the destination, especially if I'm hopping rooftops. If you and Gloomy hang out with Ami for a while, I could probably find the spot in no time."
03-03-2007, 10:28 PM
Rio paused in though a moment, still near the doorway. "Hmm. I'm not sure how much time we have, but we could probably hold out here for a bit if you dash out the back and take a look. We should be fairly close anyways, as I figure it. How does that sound to you Masaru? Or do you think the group of us should head out?"
Looking out the doorway , he inquires, "Have they done anything, or are they waiting for us to come out?"
03-03-2007, 10:40 PM
"It looks like there was substance to sensei giving us these tags. The thugs seem to have something that detects chakra...a device of some kind they'd been using to track us. It should make it easier for us to slip away now." the masked ninja noted absently, still watching the street. "Whatever we do, we should do it soon. They might decide to just come in after us if we wait any longer."
03-05-2007, 03:16 PM
Leaning back in her chair, Michiko popped an unagi dumpling into her mouth, casting a sidelong glance to the front door and then back to the kitchen's double doors, as if weighing her choices on a mental scale. Well, we're not getting any closer by sitting around here.
Letting her chair's legs back down to the floor, Michiko stood dusting her hands on her jacket and then leaned over the table, giving Ami an ingratiating smile. "Hey kid, if you like those dumplings so much, I can take you back to the kitchen where Kazuma makes 'em." She nodded her head towards the kitchen. "Maybe if you ask real nice, he'll cook you up something special."
Not waiting for a reply, Michiko pushed open the kitchen's double doors, waving Ami to follow her in. Winding their way to the back, she pointed towards the middle-aged cook and nudged the boy in that direction. "That's him. He likes kids, so if you ask him he'll make ya anything you want." Catching one of the more familiar undercooks by the arm, she gestured to Ami. "Have Kazuma keep an eye on the kid for me, alright? Put him to washing dishes if you have to," she chuckled, pushing her way out the kitchen's back door.
Stepping out into the back alley, Michiko cast a quick glance around her before hopping up onto one of the lidded garbage cans and grabbing the ledge of the roof, she swung herself up. Balancing easily on the red-tiled roof, Michiko cast a cursory glance around the area, squinting against the noonday sun.
Spot: 1d20+6=20 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=904345)
Listen: 1d20+6=25 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=904347)
03-05-2007, 04:18 PM
The kid looks up a bit surprised as Michiko suddenly stood up and gestured for him to follow her into the kitchen. Weren't they going to eat out there after all? But with a glance over at Rio and Masaru, he shrugged and rose from his seat to follow her into the kitchen. Glancing over at Kazuma before he approached catiously and struck up a conversation with the man...
03-11-2007, 11:21 PM
From her rooftop perch, Michiko spotted two of the street toughs Masaru had mentioned, meandering their way through the alleys near the shop. Catching a few snatches of conversation, she strained to hear, but only made out a few choice words. She frowned, pacing slowing to the edge of the roof.
"If I can jump to that roof over there and then the next one over, I think I'll be close enough to hear 'em..."
Backing her way to the opposite end of the unagi shop's roof, Michiko dashed across the red-tiled roof and leaped, easily clearing the gap between buildings and landing in a crouch. She righted herself with a grin, quickly running to make the jump to the next roof and with her last step, her foot slipped on a loose tile, sending her tumbling through the air.
Snatching out with a hand, Michiko grabbed hold of the house's rain gutter, dangling precariously over the alleyway. Gritting her teeth, she reached out with her free hand to pull herself up, and her fingers slipped on the roof's edge, leaving her swinging in midair.
"Damn it..." she murmured.
First jump: 1d20+1=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=914650)
Second jump: 1d20+1=2 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=914657) (Crap!)
Reflex save (DC 15) to grab ledge as per SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/skills/jump.htm): 1d20+7=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=914660) (Pass. *whew*)
Climb check (DC 15) to pull myself up: 1d20+1=12 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=914672) (Crap!)
03-12-2007, 02:56 PM
With Michiko gone to find the safe house, a way out, or even just to see if anyone had gone around to the back of the building, Rio thinking intently unto a plan he could perform, and Masaru standing guard by the door the three Genin seemed to be very spread out...
The clatter and noise of Michiko failing in her jump seemed extremely loud to her ears as she dangled from the roof top. No longer could she hear the voices that she had been going towards though she was an awful lot closer. Straining the female genin lifted herself up and over the lip of the roof and rolled a good three feet away from the ledge. A nice respectable distance from the lip of the roof.
At the unagi restraunt things seemed to be coming to a head as the four thugs remaining down the street turned as one and strolled down the street to come to stop in front of the door way. The four of them seem to be a bit uneasy when faced with the faceless visage that Masaru presents but it doesn't stop them from walking towards the doorway as if he wasn't even there..
((OOC: Michiko can you make a spot check?))
03-12-2007, 04:39 PM
The implacable, masked guardian at the door watched, unmoving, as the thugs approached the door. As they neared him, there was a nearly unnoticeable change in him. He hadn't moved a millimeter, but it was as if the air around him had gained a slight charge or tension. The thugs seemed to sense it, since they looked rather uncomfortable...that basic fight or flight instinct nagging at the backs of their minds.
Masaru finally moved when it looked as if the four thugs were going to head past him into the unagi shop. Shifting his weight onto the other foot and then settling into a loose posture, his arms dangling limply at his sides, Masaru blocked the doorway. Anyone going through the door would have to try to shove past him. There was no challenge or witty question posed to the thugs. He simply stood there, mirrored eye lenses reflecting their surprised expressions back at them.
03-15-2007, 11:23 PM
"Hey, sorry guys. No more room. Anything we can help you with?" Rio asked as he hopped up on a table slightly behind Masaru, kunai in hand. He strained to peer around at the thugs, the room, the street anything for an edge in making sure Michiko found where she was going.
((Knowledge: Tactics d20+11=31 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=921248)))
"Maybe if you tell us what you're looking for we can help you out, no trouble," Rio grinned, fiddling with his kunai.
(((OOC, I'm sorry for being gone. Last week was nothing but work. Big kick in the junk.)))
03-17-2007, 03:02 PM
Having successfully scrambled back onto the rooftop, Michiko righted herself, casually brushing at her clothes before peering over the edge of the roof.
They're headed towards the shop like I thought. I probably could sneak Ami out the back if they're distracted, but I still don't know where I'm supposed to take him, and I don't want him to be out in the open if I don't know where I'm going.
Casting a look around for anything notable, Michiko frowned.
Spot: 1d20+6=20 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=923666)
"S'pose I should warn the boys about this imminent 'company,'" she muttered.
Waiting until the two thugs had passed, Michiko let herself hang from the roof's edge and then jumped down to the street below, breaking into a run. She darted into a side street that she knew would take her to back to Kazuma's shop, but around and out of sight of the thugs.
Let's hope I can get there before anything gets messy...
03-17-2007, 06:21 PM
All four of the thugs seemed distinctly uneasy at the implied threats and Masaru standing in front of the doorway, trying to peer in over top of the genin's head to look in only to catch sight of Rio up on the table. Glances went to each other once more before one of them stepped forward.
"Just comin' for some food, boys. Won't be long so if you'll just get out of the..." He said a bit hedgingly and started to squeeze past the black garbed genin...
Michiko managed to slip in through the back door of the unagi restraunt without any sign of the two she had spotted in the alley way to find a rather bored looking Ami and a busy looking Kazuma. Of where they were supposed to take the kid...well...Keimatsu had said they'd know it when they saw it. And a big building that had crudely drawn (we're talking stick figures) verisons of each of each member of the team was a big tip off.
03-18-2007, 03:34 PM
There was no warning, no telltale shift in movement, before Masaru's hand shot up from where it lay at his side. As he fell into a wider stance, he bent his hand downwards so the compact bone at the base of his wrist would connect solidly with the underside of the lead thug's jaw. The move was commonly referred to as the "chicken wing", but it was very effective despite the name. The top of his wrist would slap the man's jaw shut with teeth-shattering force.
Hey, they'd been warned.
Attack: 1d20+7=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=925568)
Damage: 1d4+3=6 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=925578) (lethal)
When the man stumbled back, Masaru seemed to relax, hands again hanging limply at his sides. He didn't seem angry, itching for a fight, or much of anything. Once again he just stood there...a silent gargoyle guarding the way. The only outward sign he made to the thugs was a simple lift of one hand, index finger pointed out of a fist. He tilted his head to the side and waved his finger in front of his face as if to say, "No no no."
The first shot was a warning, a simple rebuke to let them know that he meant business. It was meant to shock and hurt the man, but he'd survive it despite the tongue he'd most likely bitten off when his jaw slapped shut. If he was smart, he'd leave before Masaru decided to use the sword that had somehow shifted a little more to the side of his shoulder for an easy draw...
03-20-2007, 11:50 AM
The man had been completely unsurprised for the sudden assault by Masaru and took the chicken wing full on and stumbled back into the others that had come with him looking dazed in pain. Turning to the side he spitted out a couple of bloody teeth and wiggled his jaw back and forth even as he wobbled on his feet and narrowed his eyes.
With wicked grins coming to their faces, each of the four pull out clubs from their belts and began to pat them in their hands, like they were trying to scare the kid or sumthin'.
((Need iniative rolls from Rio, Masaru, and Michiko once she enters the fray.))
03-20-2007, 09:07 PM
The masked genin didn't so much as flinch as he drew the sword slowly from the scabbard on his back, spreading his stance out so that the blade was held at the ready behind him, his free hand pointing towards the leader. Slowly, the hand turned palm up, and he beckoned the thugs with one finger.
Initiative: 1d20+3=15 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=930042)
03-21-2007, 02:17 PM
Bursting into the kitchen in a rush, Michiko wove quickly between the bustling undercooks and dishwashers, making a beeline for Ami. Snatching him by the sleeve, she gave him a hasty grin and jerked a thumb towards the back door.
"C'mon kid, we're makin' an exit. If you follow me and don't ask questions, I'll let ya help me out with my part of the mission, you got it?"
Not giving him a chance to reply, Michiko half-dragged Ami with her towards the kitchen's back door, already breaking into a run. Calling over her shoulder, she jerked a thumb towards the dining room hallway.
"Hey Kazuma! You're gonna have some disorderly company real quick! Take care of 'em, eh?"
03-24-2007, 08:27 PM
Rio chuckled a little at Masaru's strike and subsequent silent mockery.
"Geez guys, four on two? Isn't that a little unfair? Maybe you should go grab a couple of friends, make it more even, huh?" So saying, Rio readied his kunai for a toss. Damn, this would be so much easier if we could use our chakra. I wonder how Michiko is doing with Ami...
((Initiative roll d20+2=7 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=937523) Ugh.))
03-25-2007, 06:38 PM
Two of the thugs (Including the one Masaru punched before) outside of the unagi shop let out a loud yell as they charged stepped forward with their clubs. The first blow was a clumsy overhead one that Masaru simply leaned to the right to avoid...right into the second club that smacked him solidly up the side of the head. (5 points damage).
The remaining two decided to take another route into the building instead of the front door and with a loud crash of shattering glass one of them came jumping threw the closed window. His companion paused to kick away some of the jagged pieces still left in the frame before climbing through as well and cautiously approach Rio though not close enough for him to get a stab in with his kunai.
Ami appears more then a little bit startled as Michiko came bursting into the back and half dragged him to the back door. Kazuma was every bit of startled as well but he shook it off quickly and with a glance at the other cooks, he and the other two moved to the hallway leading into the dining room and looked in, fully expecting the worst.
"Hey wait a second! What about the others, you can't just leave them!" Ami protested shrilly as he was pulled to the back door and the hefty wooden slab was tossed open with a bang. The female genin lead her charge out into the alleyway behind the kitchen and looked down the paths to the left and right. Close to forty feet away the two men who she had been eavesdropping on turned to look at her with their mouths open.
"There she is! Grab her!"
(Initiative is Thugs, Michiko, Masaru, then Rio. The thugs have already taken their moves for this round.)
03-25-2007, 06:54 PM
Masaru didn't yell or posture like the clumsy thugs did. After being hit with the second blow, he tried to follow the motion and therefore lessen the impact while at the same time beginning his counterattack. He spun on a heel, ducking his head down at the same time, and swept his sword around in a horizontal slash at the overextended thug's belly.
Attack: 1d20+6=24 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=938882)
Confirm Crit: 1d20+6=21 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=938884)
Damage 1: 1d6+3=7 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=938885)
Damage 2: 1d6+3=8 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=938887)
Total: 15 damage
03-25-2007, 07:47 PM
Michiko spotted the thugs down the alley and cursed under her breath, stuffing a hand into her belt pouch with a scowl.
"So much for the pretense, I guess."
Throwing a smoke bomb at her feet, Michiko dashed in the opposite direction of the thugs, tugging Ami by the arm, a grin spreading on her face.
"Well kid, looks like the mission came to me instead. C'mon, I think we can ditch 'em."
Darting to the end of the alley, she quickly turned the corner and made her way towards the marked building she had spotted earlier.
If I can keep up this pace, I think we'll make it without a fight. If they catch up... I don't know.
04-12-2007, 08:11 PM
The smoke bomb went off with a loud popping noise, filling up the narrow alleyway with purplish smoke. Michiko could hear the two men go running into the cloud but the loud ruckus and noise suggested that at least one of them had run into the garbage cans that Kazuma had set out there. However the other one only seemed to be deterred for a moment or two before he came stumbling out of cloud coughing so hard it almost looked as if he was going to puke up a lung. Somehow he turned his teary eyes towards the fleeing kid and teenager and continued to in his pursuit, gradually picking up speed once more.
A pained yell announced the success of Masaru's attack as various steamy things spilled out from the thug's belly, the man falling back through the doorway to land on his back. He was drawing more then a little attention to himself with all of the yelling that he was doing. But the other one, the one he punched before, didn't waste any time in taking another swing at him with the club, only to have measured the distance poorly and having it come up more then a couple of inches short.
Rio proved to be in a far worse situation as both of his opponents jumped at him at the same moment. The first of the two darted forward to grip the edge of the table, barely avoiding a stab of Rio's kunai, before the table was flipped out from underneath of the genin. The other thug was laying in wait, catching the boy in his arms and holding unto him tightly with a grin.
04-12-2007, 08:46 PM
Judging the club's arc and reach in a fraction of a second, Masaru didn't even try to dodge out of the way. He simply let the weapon pass by in front of him before he moved forewards in a counterattack to finish off the last of the two thugs that had come at him. Holding his blade low as he stepped in, he executed one rising slash that opened the man from hip to shoulder in a spray of ichor.
Attack: 1d20+7=21 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=972073)
Damage: 1d6+3=7 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=972074)
He caught sight of Rio's situation out of the corner of his eye, knowing that he'd have to move quickly to assist the other genin. He waited until he was sure that his current thug had fallen to whirl on the door, silent and grim, and tilted his head to the side at the thug's holding Rio like a curious dog.
"If your friends get to a doctor right now they might live. Put him down and I will let you leave with them." he stated calmly.
04-13-2007, 09:48 AM
Dashing down the alley, Michiko grinned at Ami as she heard the various sounds coming from her smoke cloud, most notably the crashes and hacking coughs. "See, kid? It helps to be prepared, especially when your opponents aren't that bright."
Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed the remaining thug step out of the hazy smoke and with a twist of her mouth, she picked up the pace, her slender legs eating more ground with every stride, all the while tugging Ami by the arm. She flashed him a reassuring smirk, letting his sleeve go in order to let the boy run for himself. "Keep up with me, we're almost out of this."
The two make their way as quickly as possible towards the building Michiko had spotted earlier, the girl spurring the boy along with her special brand of cheeky confidence and apparent lack of fear or worry, hoping to reach the structure before the thugs reconnoiter.
Keimatsu-sensei better have been right about this. I'm gonna be pissed if I did all this running for nothing.
04-13-2007, 10:35 PM
Ami stumbles some as the girl who had just been pulling him along let go so he could run on his own. The boy soon picked up his stride however and began to run easily after her with nice measured breath, however he was lagging behind her.
"Shouldn't we go back for your comrades? Aren't they in danger too?" He asked curiously, looking back over his shoulder towards the pathway that they had just exited. Raking coughs sounded off the arrival of the first man, and Ami's eyes widened.
"Get down!" He exclaimed and leaped forward, colliding with the older girl and bearing her to the ground. Just in time as a fair-sized crate went soaring over their head's to shatter against the ground.
In the unagi shop, the tension only escalated as the second man fell to the ground with a horrific wound marring his body. The one holding Rio had to struggle for a moment as the genin wriggled in his grasp, but managed to keep the firm grip on him. Even going so far as to hold the genin in front of him with one arm under his head and the club raised up into the air with the other.
"Yeah right, like we'd believe a couple of murderous nin. Tell us were the kids are and nuthin' bad'll happen to that boy!" The free handed one declared, smacking his club into his palm, seemingly taking some sort of confidence at having his companion holding a hostage.
((The round after this one, you'll reach the building Catch.))
04-15-2007, 10:14 PM
"Nothing will happen to the boy, despite what you may have planned for him. I'll kill you both before I let you touch him." Masaru explained calmly. "Though as long as we are on the subject, what 'kids' do you refer to?"
Ah ha! A clue. Perhaps everything was not as it seemed. These men seemed to be concerned over something. Perhaps the genins' new sensei had been just slightly more devious in this mission's planning than previously anticipated. He would kill them to save Rio's life, but if a more...bloodless solution could be obtained then that would be preferable. Masaru had no problem with ending their lives to save his teammate, but needless bloodshed was another thing entirely. His body was scared, not his conscience.
Then again, he could be wrong and they could have just been referring to Michiko and Ami when they mentioned the "kids". Though Masaru hoped for a better outcome.
04-19-2007, 10:44 AM
Michiko let out a grunt as the smaller boy crashed into her and they both fell flat to the street, swearing under her breath as the crate smashed in front of her.
"Flying crates. Wonderful. Couldn't they just throw shuriken like regular ninja?" she muttered. Turning to Ami, she grumbled "Next time, you could just say 'duck,' you know."
Realizing that the present moment was not quite suitable for reprimand, she reached out and hauled Ami to his feet, giving him only a moment to regain his legs before breaking into a run and spurring him to do the same. "C'mon kid, we're almost there! D'you wanna take a flying box upside the head?"
With the building in sight, Michiko breaks into a dead sprint, sparing breath only to shout "Keep up with me, kid, we'll make it!"
Assuming they both reach the building in one piece, Michiko will shove Ami in the door first and then duck in herself, slamming it shut behind her and bracing it with her body.
04-19-2007, 12:29 PM
"I did the first thing that came to mind! Maybe I won't help next time!" Ami declared in a huff and ducked as another crate smashed off of the wall beside them. The kid shut up after that however and ran in silence, looking back over his shoulder every now and then for more projectiles as they ran.
But the man chasing them didn't seem to have the same kind of training that the two kids did and never quite caught up with them. Instead he lagged farther and farther behind until it looked as if he had given up the chase after them. Ami was breathing hard as the door opened and the ducked inside. It was only after Michiko had braced her body against the doorway that she heard a slow and steady clapping...
((Catch, a PM will be inbound shortly.))
"Hah! I don't think even you'd be able to kill us both 'fore we did sumthin' fairly unpleasent to this kid, so just back up and tell us were the little brat and the girl are!" The gruff thug says, the both of them edging back and away from the black covered genin that was crouched untop of the table. Trying to put some distance between them and that sword as a head poked out around the corner to observe the mayhem happening in the dining room.
04-19-2007, 02:59 PM
The masked ninja edged towards them as they retreated, giving them no indication that he'd seen anything behind them. His mirrored lenses gave away nothing as he sheathed his sword and let his hands fall to his sides. Putting away his weapon would allow Masaru to confuse them long enough for him to press them a bit farther towards the kitchens. He would only stop if they began to immediately threaten Rio's safety.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, but if you don't put him down you will be joining your friends on the ground outside." he deadpanned. What the thugs didn't see as he kept their attention with his voice was the pair of kunai that found his way into his palms from within his sleeves.
Sleight of Hand: 1d20+6=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=987543)
04-19-2007, 04:29 PM
"You know what we're talking about! The blond little spitfire and the Jounin's brat, were are they?" The one without a hostage said as he continued to back away a little farther and raised his hand. A club raised and came down on the back of Rio's head, eliciting a pained groan when it landed with a wet thud. Not to mention drawing an angry look from the held Rio.
However the both of them didn't seem to notice the two kunai that Masaru was slipping down into his hands, or the cook creeping up behind them holding a large cast iron skillet in both hands.
04-19-2007, 05:25 PM
"Alright, alright!" he said, trying to stop any more blows from landing on Rio's unprotected head. "You win. Just don't hurt him. I'll tell you where they are." he assured them. "All you have to know is-"
Masaru's hands came up in midsentence, when they were focused on what he was telling them rather than their surroundings at the moment. He had not trained extensively in throwing two kunai at once but in order to save Rio he had to make sure he got both. The cook could finish them off. So, his hands blurred up in two underhanded throws, sending the kunai whistling towards each bandit's left eye.
((Figured the kunai counted as light weapons for two-weapon purposes.))
First Kunai: 1d20+2=21 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=987933)
Crit Confirm: 1d20+2=18 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=987943)
Critical Damage: 6
Damage Rolls: http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=987947
04-19-2007, 05:57 PM
The two kunai flew out with a powerful throw, one of them sinking into the man's arm (The one holding Rio) and drawing blood. However the other projectile stuck into the thug's chest and merely hug there as he looked down at it with an amazed eye. With a growl he reached down to rip the weapon from his chest though no blood trickled from the wound. With a smirk he rapped his knuckles on his chest to reveal the dull tapping noise of a concealed armored vest.
"Amazing things, aren't they?" He said just as the frying pan came down weakly on his shoulder, pushing him forward but causing no real harm. Instead the thug turned around and whipped the club across the chef's face and sent him stumbling to the ground. As if realizing his mistake at the last second, he just started to turn around towards Masaru.
04-19-2007, 07:05 PM
The black-clad ninja didn't waste the opportunity. As soon as the thug turned around he would find himself greeted with none other than Masaru's boot. The shinobi moved with incredible speed, closing the gap between them in a fraction of the time it would take a normal person. He vaulted off of a table, spinning in the air, and struck out with his foot to connect solidly with the side of the man's head with a sharp crack!
Taijutsu Check for Shodan Kousoku (Rank One Speed) - DC 15
Chakra Cost: 2
1d20+7=23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=988011) + 1 for Rank 1 Speed = 24
1d4+3=7 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=988019) (lethal)
04-19-2007, 09:39 PM
The man took the blow hard and his head snapped around with the same sound of the thwacking noise but didn't quite go down. Instead the man growled and jabbed the club forward to Masaru's stomach but the blow had no force behind it.
A yell from the second one announced Rio's escape from his clutches and a kunai dug down into his thigh. Rio rolls away nimbly with his sudden release and offers a Masaru a rakish grin despite the throbbing pain coming from his head.
04-19-2007, 11:10 PM
Masaru fell back for just a moment to return Rio's grin with a nod of his own. Then, not giving the thug a chance to recover, he snapped foreward again like a shot, riding out the speed boost that forcing chakra into circulation through his entire body afforded him. He stepped down, then propelled himself forewards using the powerful muscles in his leg to send the bony cap of his knee flying across the intervening distance to land directly on the thug's sternum, hopefully knocking him to the ground.
Flying Knee: 1d20+8=22 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=988423)
Damage: 1d4+3=6 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=988424) (lethal)
Note: Last round using Rank 1 Speed.
04-21-2007, 05:46 PM
Masaru planted his knee hard against the thugs sternum and sent him falling to the ground, eye lids fluttering before they shut and the man fell into a...forced sleep. Rio proved to have equal success in his endeavors as he jabbed forward with his kunai, making his target gurgle in pain before slumping down to the ground.
No more enemies showed themselves to be present in the unagi shop and the cook was picking himself off of the ground slowly, rubbing his jaw and wincing. When the thug who had bashed him across the face groaned, looking as if he might pick himself back up, the assaulted culinary artist rushed over and kicked the man in the side of the head and made sure he wouldn't be getting back up anytime soon.
However the two successful genin were left with a different question, since Michiko and Ami were no were in sight, with the last sign of them being with the blond teenager taking their charge out of the back of the restraunt. Kazuma came out of the back with a smile on his face and approached the injured chef, giving him a hearty pat on the back and a roar of laughter. "Good job kid, your now officially a chef here. Why don't you go in the back and put some ice on that jaw before it goes stiff?" He suggested, waiting until his employee had retreated into the back before surveying the damages. He seemed to sigh when he saw the bodies on the ground, two of which had ceased to breath and ran a hand through his hair.
"Well this is a fiddle..." He groaned before looking to the two genin who remained. "Ahh...well I guess I'll handle the paper work for this and alert the proper authorities. Don't worry about getting in trouble, I heard about some of it from your friend and I'll vouch for you..bloody thugs..." Carefully stepping around the upturned table, Kazuma went to the doorway and put out a closed sign for the unagi shop. Not that it'd really be needed since...who'd eat in a shop that had just been through a fight?
04-21-2007, 06:12 PM
"I apologize for the damages." Masaru said, bowing to Kazuma stiffly. "I will pay for any damages we might have inflicted." Next, he collected his kunai, noting absently that some of the thugs had died during the fight, their friends not having cared enough to get them the help needed to save their lives. "Would you call the medical teams, Kazuma? I'd rather not all of them died here."
Then, he turned to Rio. "Come on, we need to find Michiko and Ami." he said, then turned and ran out the back door. Hopefully they would be able to pick up Michiko's trail.
04-21-2007, 07:09 PM
Rio followed after Masaru as he went rushing out of the back of the shop, leaving a startled Kazuma in their wake. Once out back they found what could only be seen as a sign of a ruckus. A trio of garbage cans had been overturned, leaving their contents strewn across the ground, and there were still wisps of colored smoke drifting through the air. Presumably from a discharged smoke bomb.
The two ninja glanced at each other before looking closely at the ground to try and figure out which direction that their comrade and charge had gone in but the question seemed to answer itself before they could divulge their own answer.
Michiko and Ami came around a corner of the alleyway, perhaps thirty feet away from where Rio and Masaru had come out from. The two of them seemed relatively unharmed though Ami looked different then before. In place of the plain t-**** and shorts he wore, he instead had a heavy vest on and looked far more serious then before. Also several undone leather straps swayed from side to side behind the kid...
04-21-2007, 07:10 PM
((OOC: Oh my crap, I hate exams. It's the most brutal thing ever. It's not like regular hate, it's so much more black. If they were a street gang I'd fsckin' go to war with them with bottles and chains.
I am incredibly, incredibly sorry for my absence. Exam period has been beating me senseless. The real ones are over, though there are still take home exams, and papers to write. But I should be back now. Once again, sorry everyone. Oh, and thanks for not killing me off Callos.))
"Man, my head smarts," murmured Rio softly. "Uh, yeah. Sorry about the damages. We'll be willing to compensate if you like. And hey, maybe someday we'll get a chance to actually have a good time here."
Rio then nodded, made sure the thugs weren't moving, and took off after Masaru.
Man, I'm kinda pathetic with taijutsu. I've got to work on that...
As they emerged from the shop and noticed their comrades, Rio paused. What had happened to Ami?
04-21-2007, 07:26 PM
((OOC: Looks like Callos can't spell for shirt. :smallwink:))
With a bit of a swagger and bounce in her step, Michiko approached Masaru and Rio in no particular hurry, waving at them from far off. As they came within speaking distance, she chuckled at the two of them.
"You guys look like hell. Did you at least win?" She grinned and gestured to Ami, "and don't worry about 'Ami.' I already took care of the mission for you two. I think he's safe for now," she finished with a laugh.
04-21-2007, 07:36 PM
The masked genin didn't seem phased by the new developments...though to be fair he didn't ever seem much of anything behind that implacable mask. He straightened up as the two approached, and seemed to take stock of the new Ami. "Some of them might still be alive." he said without inflection. "Hmph...Keimatsu-sensei, I presume? Or was any of the story you gave us factual?"
04-21-2007, 07:49 PM
Oh man, that hit to the head must've messed with my brain. I'm supposed to be a smart one. 'Course it's Keimatsu-sensei.
"Tch. Did we win? Of course we won. Though really, it's thanks to this guy here," he said, pointing at Masaru. "I was... less than efficient, but we still won. A win's a win, no matter how you slice it. Though I suspect we may not have done so well on our first test, eh sensei?"
04-21-2007, 08:50 PM
'Ami' gave a somewhat sheepish grin when he was questioned by Masaru and instead dipped into a short bow, an apologetic look on his face. "My apologies for the deception Masaru-kohai, but it was neccasary to gather the information I required about your character. Congratulations on the success of your mission, the both of you. It went off completely without a hitch and the three of you displayed an adequate amount of teamwork, that I didn't truly expect."
The kid paused and stepped out away from Michiko and his features turned...stony. Black hair slowly shifted to a deep and vibrant crimson while his eyes turned to a sort of royal blue. "Unfortunately, your news also saddens me. I cannot complain that your mission has gone off without a hitch. But you two have both failed the test of character that I mentioned before. However you still did as I asked, so all of you pass this exam. Congratulations and welcome to Team 1. I am your Jounin instructor Keimatsu." With those final words, Keimatsu deeped into a deep and formal bow before straightening up. "Any questions?"
04-21-2007, 09:00 PM
Rio closed his eyes for a moment, taking a breath, keeping his face relaxed and normal, though inside he raged slightly. He hated failure.
"I have a question Sensei. What was this test of character you mention, how did we fail, and how can we...undo that?" Rio struggled to keep the level of eagerness for redemption out of his voice.
"If we can know what you were looking for, perhaps we can show you the true traits of our character, right?"
04-21-2007, 09:15 PM
"I don't make excuses. What I did I felt I had to do and would not do differently had I the opportunity to do so again." Masaru deadpanned, crossing his arms. "Though if you would like to share what caused your displeasure I shall factor that into my reasoning for next time."
Masaru tucked the kunai he had recovered from the fallen thugs back into his sleeves, but kept those mirrored lenses locked on Keimatsu. It would have been unnerving for most, but he knew that a jounin could handle it.
04-21-2007, 10:01 PM
"Unfortunately it is not something that you can undo. Its not something that anyone here can undo, nor should they. I mean, think of the reprecussions of the undoing. It'd be horrible, trust me. As for the test of character...it was simple enough and the two of you should be more then able enough to figure it out. Perhaps Michiko-kohai could aid you, though I don't quite know for sure if she realizes why she passed and you didn't." Keimatsu said thoughtfully, turning his gaze back and forth between the two genin. There was an oddly blank look in his eyes, no sign of anger or condemnation, but a void there like that of a corpse. But the jounin didn't elaborate on what he had said and didn't seem unnerved by Masaru's stare.
"Now tell me...was there anything unusual about this test? Something that struck you as odd or strange. Something seem off? ...And you may remove the tags now...no need to keep those on." Came the intent question as the jounin stepped closer once more, a spark coming into his eyes as he crossed his arms in front of his chest.
04-21-2007, 10:42 PM
Masaru turned around, taking a few steps away from the others so that he could remove the tag from his forehead away from prying eyes. While readjusting the mask to his eyes and smoothing it back over his face he pondered Keimatsu's question.
The test had several odd moments. First of all, he felt he should have been able to put things together about Ami the first time they met him. No one of little skill could have completely veiled himself from the three genin so easily, revealing himself only when he chose to do so. Masaru did not enjoy being fooled.
Secondly, the fact that lowly thugs could have gotten past the sentries in order to do any kind of harm to a child was almost inconcievable. He had a sneaking suspicion that Keimatsu himself had hired the thugs for the sole purpose of the test. Their possession of a chakra tracking device seemed to confirm this. Also, that Kazuma, the unagi restaurant owner, knew "Ami" would lead one to suspect that he was also in on the test.
Pausing his thoughts for a moment, he relayed his conclusions to Keimatsu. ((OOC: He tells Keimatsu everything he just pondered, so I don't have to repeat all of it.))
04-23-2007, 11:53 PM
Keimatsu listened patiently as the Genin explained his thoughts about the whole matter and looked thoughtful for a moment before he spoke up. "You needn't feel so bad about being deceived Masaru...Afterall...this is me. All I did was have a different set of clothes on. Not many would have picked up on it."
The jounin paused then for a long moment before he spoke up once more and he had that deep thoughtful look on his face once more. "And your correct, mostly, about the second part as well. I did hire thugs for the purpose of this test, but I didn't give out any...chakra tracking device...I didn't even know that something like that existed. They were just supposed to follow some marks I left around...Oh...and I really do have a younger brother named Ami. Thats how Kazuma knew about it...had you questioned him on the matter, you owuld have discovered Ami is about four inches taller then I am, have black hair, and have a nigh permanate five o' clock shadow." Keimatsu gave an apologetic shrug at that however and gave a short dip of a bow. "I hope that clears things up for you Masaru, do you perhaps have the device?" He queries the soldier in training. Glancing around at the three of them and a slight frown growing on his features when he realized none of them had thought to grab it. "None of you? Not even you Michiko-kohai? Hm hm hm."
"Perhaps later then. In any case...I don't think that any of you really know each other, do you?"
04-24-2007, 12:04 AM
"The first man I killed was the one using it. He should still have it on him." Masaru said, glancing back out of the alleyway towards the street where the first two had fallen. "If you would like to examine the device you may do so at your convenience, sensei."
Masaru looked at the other two, remembering the few times he had seen them walk by underneath the window of his room at the Mibu estate. He'd spent his days swathed in bandages, unable to leave the room, forced to watch the world go by outside. He never knew any of the other children in the village, really, much less his new teammates. He nodded slightly in affirmation to Keimatsu but otherwise remained silent, that emotionless black mask giving away nothing.
04-24-2007, 09:38 AM
((OOC: I want my blue text back, damn it.))
Michiko shrugged, "Chakra tracker? Dunno. I was too busy saving helpless children to pick up anything like that," she finished, rolling her eyes.
Turning to Masaru and Rio, she cocked her head questioningly, grinning, "Didn't you two mooks do anything useful?"
"Anyway, Tall, Dark and Gloomy here doesn't look all that familiar," she remarked, peering at his mask, "and this other kid, I dunno. Weren't you some kinda academy genius or somethin'?" She arched an appraising eyebrow before again shrugging to Keimatsu. "Why'd you stick us together, anyway?"
04-24-2007, 07:17 PM
Rio grinned slightly, "This test was, unfortunately for me, largely based on the area where I suffer the most, taijutsu. My skills lie in other areas, tactics, et cetera. And while I do not know these two very well, less so Masaru than Michiko, there are some basic facts. And knowledge is one of my stronger areas.
"Masaru's family was all but wiped out in the attacks years ago. Little was heard of him in the academy, though from what I saw today, my initial assumption is that he is a taijutsu focused shinobi. Unfortunately, I do not know much about him at the time." Rio stretched out his arms for a moment.
"Then we have the 'blond spitfire' as one of the thugs put it. Michiko is more focused on ninjutsu and speed. I believe her area of interest is Suiton techniques, correct?" he asked Michiko. "Mizudama no Jutsu is your preferred technique, isn't it?"
Rio grinned back at Michiko. "Hey, this mook, as you put it, may have been mostly ineffectual in the fight, to my chagrin, but I do know some things. But, as for myself... Well, I'm no genius, at least I don't think so. I'm adept at creating chakra tags, but I believe my true strength lies in tactics and planning. Though you wouldn't know it by my poor showing today," he muttered slightly. He laughed a little bit and grinned again.
"I'm also hard on myself, can't you tell?" He grinned. "Also, largely because of my relative disadvantage in tests of strength, I rely on planning and teamwork to accomplish goals.
"Any other questions I might answer?" he asked, politely. "And why did you group us together sensei?"
04-25-2007, 02:56 PM
"Why I grouped you three together? Isn't it obvious?" He said quizically before moving slowly to step in front of Masaru. "Masaru...you've known the pain of having family ripped away from you. Of having skin peeled from your body by chakra-fueled flames. Would you wish that one anyone else? Would you do anything you could to keep others from feeling similiar pain?"
Keimatsu's smile slowly grew wider as be approached Rio and arched one eyebrow. "Humility isn't exactly something one sees often among shinobi this day and it takes a big man to admit he failed a task. Of course your strategic planning intellect were also large factors, though I admit that my knowledge of seals is limited and I'm quite curious about them. You may surprise us all yet with what you'll be able to do."
And then finally he twisted back around to face Michiko and his teal eyes glittered for a moment. "Michiko-kohai...think about were you come from before coming to Kagekure. About your parentage and what it did. People are inherently selfish with their own lives so when one is able...no willing to give up their lives for others is a treasured trait. Perhaps if you make it far enough, you'll be able to instill such traits in the next generation of Kage nin. That and I owed him a favor. Does that answer that question? Good!" The kid declared with a large smile before turning in a slow circle with a smile growing on his face. Gesturing for the three of them to follow, he lead the way out of the back alley and unto the main street were the first body still lay. Apparently the police still hadn't arrived yet and the jounin took the time to approach the first one. Squatting down, he began to rifle through the dead man's pockets before pulling out the black box that Masaru had seen.
"Is this it?"
04-25-2007, 05:37 PM
"Why I grouped you three together? Isn't it obvious?" He said quizically before moving slowly to step in front of Masaru. "Masaru...you've known the pain of having family ripped away from you. Of having skin peeled from your body by chakra-fueled flames. Would you wish that one anyone else? Would you do anything you could to keep others from feeling similiar pain?"
The black-masked shinobi did not speak, nor seem to react much to his new sensei's words. He simply looked down at Keimatsu, his arms hanging loose at his sides, and listened. The only hint that he had listened at all was, however, an obvious one. Several loud pops sounded from his knuckles as his fists clenched and tightened, the material of his gloves creaking with stress.
Gesturing for the three of them to follow, he lead the way out of the back alley and unto the main street were the first body still lay. Apparently the police still hadn't arrived yet and the jounin took the time to approach the first one. Squatting down, he began to rifle through the dead man's pockets before pulling out the black box that Masaru had seen.
"Is this it?"
Masaru followed, silent as usual, but stepped up when addressed in order to quickly examine and reaffirm that he had seen the device before. He squatted down next to Keimatsu, his elbows resting on his knees, to get a closer look. After a moment to ponder, he nodded an affirmative.
04-30-2007, 09:30 AM
When Keimatsu addressed her, Michiko cocked her head, her brow furrowing in consternation, not entirely comprehending.
I remember living near a waterfall village when I was real little, but what has that got to do with anything? And what about my parents? Dad died in the war, but mom didn't say much other than that...
She shrugged, following Keimatsu to the thug's bodies, peering at them with a casual indifference. "Is he dead or what? And what is that thing?"
05-02-2007, 02:20 AM
Idle fingers flipped the black box over in the jounin's hands as he peered at it. Brining it up closer to his face, he pressed one of the few buttons that it had and watched for any kind of reaction...none. With a groan Keimatsu stood up straight and slipped it into his pocket before shrugging to Michiko. "To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what the thing is. I'm not as informed about technology or science as I probably should be. As for the second question, yes. He most assuredly is dead."
Dusting his pants off, the kid spent a minute or two staring at the corpse before turning towards his soldiers with small smile. "Alright then, who wants rice balls?"
After many humble apologies to Kazuma and a hefty lose of money in the jounin's wallet, Keimatsu lead Michiko, Rio, and Masaru back to his flat for some real lunch. That is if it was safe to eat anything in the jounin's home. Saying that it was a mess would have been an insults to messes around the world and it looked like a curio-shop had turned Keimatsu's home into a dumping ground. A couple deft hand movements had cleared a space on the only table big enough to be considered a dinner table, and the jounin had disappeared into his kitchen to prepare the offered food.
Not long after a plate of rice balls was placed in front of his students as the jounin took up a perch on the back of a fancy looking chair close to the window.
"You know, I've been thinking about something. I have a fairly good grasp on were your abilities lie at the moment and on how you'll react to situations but there's no harm in asking...What sort of assignments do you think would work best with this squad? Rio's a thinker, Masaru is very much a combative person, and Michiko-kohai...is Michiko-kohai."
((OOC: This is a chance for some idle RPing but also something else important. If theres any particular kind of mission that you'd like to see, then have your character suggest it.))
05-02-2007, 10:14 AM
Eager at the prospect of free food (and to escape Kazuma and her tab), Michiko eagerly followed Keimatsu and the others to his apartment, a bounce in her step. Glancing around at the mess, she grinned. "Aren't you jounin s'posed to be organized and orderly? Your house looks like my room on a good day."
With a plop she settled herself in one of the chairs around Keimatsu's dinner table, slouching and letting her arms dangle down the back of the chair as she anticipated the arrival of food. Snatching up one of the rice balls, she murmured thanks around her first bite, chewing a bit before responding to Keimatsu's query.
"Well, I don't wanna be stuck pulling weeds or chasing after runaway cats, if that's what you mean. The best most of us Genin get to look for is a courier mission here and there, so I don't see how we're supposed to be prepared for the Chuunin exams if all we do is errands."
She shrugged, taking another bite of rice ball. "It's not like we're looking for trouble, but I figure we could handle some bodyguard duty or maybe some sort of tracking mission, chasing down fugitives or somethin'."
Gesturing with the hand holding her rice ball, she pointed to Rio first, "This kid's supposed to be a tactical genius or whatever, so I'm sure he could figure out some sort of fancy coordinated plan to take care of anything difficult, and Gloomy over here," she nodded to Masaru, "if he's as tough as he acts then I'm sure we'd stand a fair chance if a fight comes our way."
05-02-2007, 11:21 PM
The masked genin wasn't eating due to the embarassing difficulty of having to remove his mask in order to do so, as well as the fact that due to the influence of his doctors back at the Mibu compound he had been on a...special...diet that was more liquid than solid anyway. Even if he had tried, it was a chore trying to eat with all the scarring to his face and mouth. Things tended to dribble down...and he didn't want anyone to see. So, as such, he sat straight-backed in one of the chairs, his sword laying across his thighs.
When Michiko spoke up he nodded in silent agreeement to most of her assessment, though his shoulders tightened a bit when she started calling him names again. It was almost like she thought he wore the mask and bodysuit to be mysterious or something to that effect, that he didn't need it and only did it for attention. He pondered the thought of just taking the mask off to see her throw up the rice balls she'd just eaten, but decided to spare everyone else the experience. He tugged down at the neck to better fit the mask to his face.
"What is your specialty, Michiko?" he said at the end of her dialog.
05-02-2007, 11:45 PM
Sitting up a little straighter, Michiko glanced to Masaru. "Me? Stealth and tracking. That, and I have a few techniques for sowing a bit of discord among anyone looking for a fight," she added with a cheeky grin. "Can't see me comin', and if they do, it isn't for long."
She shrugged, leaning back in her chair and taking another bite of rice ball, musing. "I've been wanting to practice some more Suiton techniques, but I haven't had anyone to teach me. There's a few I've heard of that might be fun..."
05-06-2007, 07:08 PM
Rio sat quietly, eating his rice ball. When he had finished, he leaned back, listening to Michiko speak. He placed one of his ear buds into his right ear, and began playing music softly as he idly grabbed a pen and scrap of paper and began drawing. When she and Masaru had finished speaking, he spoke up, though still drawing, and the music still in his ear.
"Well, as Michiko stated, chasing cats and pulling weeds aren't really the kind of missions we would like. All the same, a mission is a mission, and I doubt we'd turn any down.
"However, it would be nice to be able to put ourselves to the test on occasion. Escort duty and the like, guard duty, et cetera."
Rio finally looked up, and put down his pen. He had done a fairly detailed sketch of the room, sans people. He grinned slightly before continuing.
"Again, I don't think I'm a 'genius', though it's certainly nice to hear, Michiko. And frankly, from our previous mission, I'm not at all sure that Masaru thinks highly of me. But, all the same, some things just make sense to me. For example, Keimatsu-sensei, I think I know another reason you grouped us together. You have three different members with three separate and complementary skills. Michiko with her specialties in stealth and tracking, Masaru with his focus on taijutsu, and me," he smiled, "with tactics. And some surprises. I tell you, being able to draw your own exploding tags is a nice diversion. Alone, each of us is extrmely vulnerable, but if you combine our strengths, assuming they're applied properly, we have the potential to handle most situations, right?
"Take guarding something or someone, for example. Michiko could sneak out and gather information on any enemies in the area, I could use the information to set up a respectable defense strategy, and Masaru could use the information and plan to best decide which opponent to deal with if it comes to that. However, this is, of course, only an example, and any mission we are assigned, I'm sure would be approved by Ihesamo and thusly be sure to utilise our skills."
His piece said, Rio returns to the paper and pen, flipping it over and begining a new sketch.
05-10-2007, 09:59 AM
The Jounin listened silently to what the genin had to say as he lifted up a rice ball and munched on it thoughtfully, directing his full attention on to each one when they spoke up before letting it drift unto the next one when they did. With a smile across his face, Keimatsu sat up and stretched lightly.
"So...let me get this straight...the three of you would like to avoid the 'menial' labor type of missions that are the bread and butter of the shinobi world, were we can charge the rich outregous prices for simple tasks, in exchange for the deadly life-or-death type instead. Well at least you three know what you want." He replied slowly as he went back to the kitchen to get another round of food before returning. There was a mischevious look on his face when he did return.
"Alright, here is whats going to happen. You lot are going to finish of your rice balls, go home and get a good nights sleep, then report to the Academy in the morning to aid in teaching the academy students for the rest of the day. I'll see you in two days then, have fun with the kiddies." Without further gusto, the jounin left his soldiers in his living room with the food and retreated further back into the recesses of the messy apartment only for the sound of a door closing to be heard...
((Here's your guys training/community service time. Use it wisely while I get a mission ready.))
05-22-2007, 01:49 AM
After leaving Keimatsu's apartment, Michiko waved a quick goodbye to her teammates and wandered the side streets of the Kagekure village, stopping by Kazuma's shop to see if the old man was still alive and to sneak a few dumplings from the kitchen. Heading home, she mused to herself while munching on her filched food from Kazuma's kitchen.
Keimatsu didn't seem very amiable to letting us have tougher missions. Either he thinks we can't handle it, or he's just a lazy kid that doesn't want to do anything that might be dangerous. Besides, if he ever wanted a near-impossible mission, he could always try cleaning that apartment of his, she chuckled to no one in particular. Still, I figure we could handle something that's tougher. Anything's better than D-rank chores.
Back at the Academy, Michiko was as cheeky as ever, giving her old instructors as much of a hassle as the young students. She payed special attention to the clowns and smart alecs, encouraging them to practice their techniques while giving advice on mischief. In her usual style, Michiko put her full effort into the task of instruction, still managing to goof off in the process.
In between classes and on her downtime, Michiko was seen scrambling up gutter pipes to the rooftops above, jumping across the gaps between houses in rapid succession. No more screw ups like last time. I almost broke my damn neck!
Learn check for Chouyaku no Jutsu (DC 13): Take 10 + 4 + 1 = 15
At the end of two days, Michiko could be seen lazily laying on the roof of her apartment on the ledge beneath the window to her room. She reclined back, arms tucked behind her head and legs crossed one over another, placidly enjoying the shade from the awning above her.
"I wonder when Keimatsu's gonna call us back together," she murmured. With a chuckle, she added "Maybe he got lost in his apartment..."
05-22-2007, 02:00 PM
Rio left Keimatsu's home and bade his teammates farewell. As he returned to his home, Sakada spied him from the doorway. As she called out to him, Rio offered a small smile and removed his headphones as he went inside.
As Rio and his adoptive sister had a snack and some tea, he recounted his first day on the team.
"Tch. I may as well have not even been there. All I did was get beat up and tell some jokes."
"Hey! How were you supposed to know that you'd be forced to use chakra sealing tags? You focus on your ninjutsu and tags, and your sensei probably knows that. He put you all in a place where your options were limited. As for this test of character you supposedly 'failed', that just means you can redeem yourself, no?"
Rio chuckled a little. "I suppose you're right. Just wish I knew at least one taijutsu, though in all likelihood I'd never use it. Just not my style, you know?"
Sakada laughed. "Trust me, I know. Hey, you have to go teach at the academy for a couple of days, right?" she waited for Rio to nod. "Alright, then here," she scribbled something down, "get someone there to teach you this technique. It's a taijutsu, so I don't know if you'll use it, but get good with it, okay? When you're good, I'll let you know about another technique you can learn based on this one. And the new one will definitely be 'your style'."
At the academy, Rio assisted the students with the basics of plannign and strategy, how to use their surroundings to their advantage, and so on. Heh, if only I'd done that.
He also gave quick instruction on the basic use and fabrication of various tags. His most popular demonstration came when he set off an exploding tag in the middoe of tripwires connected to multiple trap tags, succeeding in demolishing the structure fabricated by the class sensei.
After the class was over, Rio approached his sensei with the paper Sakada had given him. The sensei laughed and remarked that he knew exactly why Sakada was getting Rio to learn this technique. So, in his downtime, Rio was seen practicing this odd taijutsu technique that he believed he'd never have any use for. At any rate, he learned it quickly, faster than he was expected to.
Learn check (Seishou Bakuha) DC 13 15+8= 23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1061590) Learn time is halved for beating DC by 10, tech learned in full.
In addition, Rio was impressed with the trap tags he got to use at the academy demonstration. So, at night, before he slept, he crafted two tags each night.
DC 22, take 10+15=25 four times, totaling four tags.
As the day dawned, he placed his headphones on, and went to the hill where he'd first met his teammates. He liked the view there, and it made for some nice scenery sketches. He chuckled a little to himself. "It's not like Keimatsu sensei will have a hard time finding me."
05-24-2007, 12:15 AM
Masaru parted with the others without more than a word, bidding them farewell before making his way back to the sprawling Mibu compound. The guards at the gates knew him by sight, for truth be told it was hard not to recognize him, and he was waved through without much challenge. That night he was required to spend his time in an immaculately clean room where the medical shinobi of Clan Mibu painstakingly removed his skin-tight black bodysuit from his skin and cleansed his entire body with a medicated, antibiotic bath. Afterword, he was once again carefully replaced back inside the sealed costume to prevent infection. Since the outer layer of his skin was all but gone, his body was without its first layer of protection from disease. The bodysuit, a complicated piece of clothing designed by Mibu's top medical nin, performed that task for him. He had grown used to it, but it still felt like being encased in a thin layer of plastic every day. Before he retired for the night he was able to run through his training regimen, take in a meal of liquid proteins and nutrients, and run through the library of taijutsu techniques the Mibu family had on hand.
The next day, Masaru went to the Ninja Academy as he had been ordered, taking up the kids' physical combat training. He ran them ragged, including a few basic traps and other ninja techniques into the schedule, teaching them how to react quickly to treachery with lightning fast, lethal force. It was a bit much for the naive school-kids, but they came away with a better understanding of taijutsu and its roll in the ninja arsenal. Flashy ninjutsu was fine, but if your opponent got close enough, all the power in the world wasn't going to keep his fist from breaking your face.
After he had performed his tasks, Masaru focused on his own training back at the Mibu compound for the rest of the time he had available. Keeping with what he had just taught the children, he focused mainly on speed. It was a simple technique, but potentially very useful, especially when dealing with aforementioned flashy ninjutsu.
Taking 10 on learn check = 14 + 2 (Genius Nin) + Whatever synergy bonuses I get. Learning Ryuutsuki (Dragon Thrust) Taijutsu Rank 2. Learn DC 15.
At the end of the genins' time apart, Masaru could be found once again in the Mibu compound, hitting the training mat as usual, sometimes with sparring partners and other times running through complicated kata he had forced himself to perfect. The dojo was his home more than the room he slept in or the cleanroom he received treatments in. Physical activity was when he could feel the most alive and the least handicapped by his horrible injuries. It was when he could dream of the future, of adventure... but most of all...revenge.
05-25-2007, 12:07 AM
After the hectic bustle of the Academy, some nice quiet training time could only be appreciated by all of you while you awaited some sign or sight of Keimatsu. And you didn't need to wait long either. It was just morning on the day after training when word was sent in a most unusual way. A pigeon with a note tied to it's foot was sent to each of the three with the same messily scrawled message.
Report to the South district training grounds at the soonest possible moment. No time to waste. Look for purple smoke.
05-27-2007, 09:40 PM
Lounging lazily on her bed, Michiko heard a flutter of wings and she opened one eye, turning her head towards the window. Perched patiently on the sill, the pigeon sat, waiting for the girl to get up and take the slip of paper from its foot. As the bird took wing, Michiko scanned the note quickly before stuffing it into her pocket.
"Purple smoke? I'll bet one of the Genin probably set off a stash of smoke bombs by accident." She grinned, "Maybe on purpose. Looks like I might have to knuckle a few heads."
Climbing easily out her window, Michiko stepped out onto the roof of her home and dashed to the edge. She slid down the gutter pipe with a laugh and as soon as her feet were on the ground, the girl was already in mid-dash towards the village's South district, a grin on her face.
"Time to show off."
05-29-2007, 08:16 PM
If she happened to look up, Michiko would spot Masaru paralleling her course across the rooftops high to her right. Sprinting across the closely-spaced rooftops, he managed to keep up with her on the ground. If noticed, he would favor Michiko with a nod, but keep on running. Whatever was happening, Keimatsu sensei wanted them there fast. More training, no doubt, but arriving late wouldn't serve any purpose.
((OOC: If I need any jump, balance, or tumble checks for running across the rooftops just let me know.))
05-30-2007, 04:30 PM
The hill was now deserted, the only sign of there ever having been a relaxing youth with pen and paper being a sketch of the surrounding view attached to the tree, with the words "Have a nice day!" written below.
"Hope that brightens someone's day and doesn't just get destroyed by a fireball. Hm, should've thought of that sooner. Ah well." So saying, the youth turns up the volume on his headphones ever so slightly, and sprints towards the appointed place.
05-31-2007, 03:10 PM
Once all three of the genin left for the southern training grounds, it hardly took too much time to find the purple smoke that Keimatsu had been talking about in the note that he had left for them. It was a thick (density-wise) narrow column that rose up to the air and acted as an unerring beacon for the three shinobi.
All the way past various other training grounds it lead until a high chain link fence came into sight. Various signs hung from it, warning away animals and people without proper license. Inside of the fence, the terrain took on a more moutianous look to it with a couple dark openings that could be seen from the safe side.
Keimatsu was sitting outside of the locked gate to the interior, multiple plastic tubes beside him. Every now and then, when it looks like the smoke is teetering off, the jounin cracks another one and sets it down in the exact same position. As the three approach, the kid stands up and brushes off his pants before turning around to face them. All seriousness had vanished from his face and his teal eyes bore up into the eyes of his students.
"I was recently alerted to an alarming situation. A group of children, academy students, apparently entered into these training grounds about a half hour after the sun rose. Probably some stupid prank or dare. But they haven't returned yet and as you can tell, this area is cut off from the other training grounds. Because its a chuunin to jounin level training ground for the finding and disarming of traps and advanced survival. Normally this would be a D-rank mission...but considering the circumstances it has been bumped up to C-rank. Do you understand your goal?"
05-31-2007, 03:47 PM
The masked shinobi came to an abrupt halt in front of the jounin and listened silently and intently as their mission was explained to them. He wondered if this was simply another setup courtesy of Keimatsu-sensei, but swiftly decided that it didn't matter too much in the end. They would ace this test of their abilities either way. The semi-failure of their first "mission" was something that had been gnawing at him since they'd completed it and he had resolved to make up for it.
When Keimatsu had finished speaking, Masaru only nodded, declining to speak aloud very much as per his usual. Go in, retrieve the children or their corpses, and return while avoiding traps and other dangers along the way. Sounded simple enough as long as they kept their eyes open.
06-03-2007, 06:38 PM
((Bumps for great justice!))
06-05-2007, 07:43 PM
Michiko listened impatiently, casting worried glances towards the fenced-off training grounds while Keimatsu spoke.
"How many kids got in there, sensei? Do you have a list of names? Anything you could tell us would make our search that much easier. The faster we find these students... Well, if this is a chuunin-level training ground, the traps are probably pretty lethal," she finished with a forced grin.
06-05-2007, 08:07 PM
Rio listened patiently, silenlty scanning the appearance of the training grounds. After Keimatsu finished speaking, and Michiko had her turn, Rio nodded.
"Michiko is right. We'll need to know as much as we can to expedite the search. Is there a map? What information do we get regarding the traps and potential creatures in the enclosure? The mission itself is straightforward, search and rescue, but the details are murky, aren't they?" asked Rio.
06-06-2007, 06:32 PM
Keimatsu shook his head and rose up to his feet languidly before beginning to walk towards the gates of the enclosure. "No maps are kept of the training grounds, due to an incident a couple months back when a chuunin stole the maps to a testing ground and used them to cheat on a jounin examination. Ever since then we've been circulating a certain number of trap specialists through the training areas every day to switch up the traps and disarm the old ones. It was a splendid idea until now."
A hand disappeared into his pocket and withdrew a small jagged stone with a peculiar tag and inserted it into the lock. With a click, the padlock fell away, along with the chains, to fall to the ground in a pile as the jounin turned back towards you. "As I said, this particular trap ground specializes in traps, but there is an plethoria of venomous creatures, so you need to watch with your steps. The known children are as follows...Meni Suro...Roya Nimakon...Ihisu...Eteta Okoni...Fumonu Wanan...er...hmmm..what were the last twos names...but there are two more. If there are no other questions then we really should get going. You three will be taking one route and I will be taking the other side of the training ground."
He waits for only a moment before nodding and turning around, sprinting off into the mountainous looking training ground and taking a sharp right vanishing from sight almost as quickly as the noise of his own footsteps did...
((OOC: Okay, I need spot, listen, etc. Whatever kind of checks you want to make. Formation and how your going to search, if any specific way.))
06-10-2007, 12:46 PM
Rio nodded before looking up quickly. "Alright, let's get going then. Michiko, you're the best at scouting, so how about you take the lead? I'll take the middle, mostly because Masaru is probably best to deal with any unsuspected events from the rear. We should keep a sharp eye out for any hints of the kids, without losing our notice for traps. It's not likely we could easily recover from getting hit with a couple of them. Any thoughts, or questions?"
06-12-2007, 01:19 PM
Agreed, Masaru started to walk foreward into the training ground. He paused at the gate to look back at the others and motioned to them to go first with a simple wave of one gloved hand, as planned.
((OOC: More a bump than a post, but serves both purposes. :smallwink: Come on! These kids aren't going to rescue themselves!))
06-13-2007, 10:56 AM
Michiko nods curtly to Rio and strides through the gate without pause, talking over her shoulder. "Let's get started. If I see or hear anything, I'll let you know, but if I tell you to stop, don't hesitate. If you blow yourself up, I'm not gonna carry your ashes home to your mothers.
Spot: 1d20+6=8 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1099658)
Listen: 1d20+6=16 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1099662)
06-13-2007, 11:09 AM
"My mother's dead. No need." Masaru said as he let them head in first, followed by an uncomfortable silence as he took off following. He trusted in Michiko's senses, but kept his eyes and ears peeled just the same, making to step exactly where Rio stepped while looking for signs from Michiko to pause, look out, or anything else.
Spot, Listen (1d20+1=8, 1d20+1=9) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1106612)
06-14-2007, 10:29 PM
Based on Rio's advice the three genin formed up into a line and dashed off to the side of the training ground that their sensei had assigned for them to search. With Michiko up front, Rio in the middle, and Masaru taking up the rear you feel confident that this is the best you can do for this particular mission. Several times the blonde genin leading you diverts you to a different course to avoid suspicious looking canyons and passages while keeping alert for the missing children in the area.
Time continues to tick by with no sign, though its hard to tell if this is a good sign or not. Were the children already dead? Caught by some beast or deceptive trap? Just when it begins to look a bit less hopeful Michiko signals for the line to stop and cranes her ear to the wind.
I hear something...crying. she reports softly, eyes drifting slowly across the ground to find some sign though it was Rio who discovered it first. Partially brushed away tracks, small shoes (smaller then one of yours so to speak) that lead through a tight passageway before opening up some to a wider section of the training ground were the cries were originating from. More specifically the noise was coming from a small opening in the rock with several deep gashes surrounding the entrance of it...
06-14-2007, 10:46 PM
Michiko holds up a hand, murmuring "Stay here. I don't want to traumatize the kid anymore than she already is." Squeezing into the passage, she heads for the opening. Kneeling and peering into the crevice, she calls out softly, "Can you hear me? My name's Michiko and I'm here to help you get out of here."
06-14-2007, 10:53 PM
Rio nods at Michiko's word and waits patiently, scanning the area for traps or threats. Those gashes in the rock were caused by something, after all.
"One down, eh? Let's help her out. We've still got more kids to find."
06-17-2007, 01:00 AM
Not wanting to scare the child, Masaru contents himself with standing guard for potential threats, keeping his senses pealed for signs of whatever had done that to the rock face. Whatever it was, he preferred to steer clear of it.
Listen, Spot (1d20+1=19, 1d20+1=17) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1106622)
06-17-2007, 12:05 PM
Cautiously Michiko squeezes into the tight passage and starts to make slow progress through the tight confines until it begins to open up to the wider portion. After waiting for a moment Rio and Masaru began to follow as well in the same formation as before. Once the rocky passage way began to open up, it widened to a circular area that had a diameter of about eighty feet with smaller opening on left about halfway in.
At the sound of someone approaching the crying stopped and a small scuffling noise could be heard. Finally free of the tight passageway Michiko looked about carefully and froze for a moment. Crouched at the height of the wall and peering down into the opening was a monstrously huge spider. Beady eyes gleamed from the sunlight reflecting off it's carapace and the blond haired genin waved backwards frantically to warn her comrades...
Almost as if it had sensed it had been seen, the massive spider let out a harsh chittering scream as it scurried around the edges of the pit until it faced the opening. Venom drips from it's kunai sized fangs that clack together hungerly. It isn't hard to notice the large cresent blades protruding from it's right, leaving gashes that drip a black ichor on the ground..
06-20-2007, 10:50 PM
Swallowing hard, Michiko backs away from the spider slowly, creeping towards the opening from where she had entered. Crap! Spider!
Attempting to squeeze into the opening, she calls back down the passage as softly as possible. "Uh, guys? There's a spider. A big one."
06-25-2007, 12:31 AM
From the back came Masaru's deadpan, matter-of-fact reply. "Step on it." he advised nonchalantly, obviously misunderstanding his teammate's meaning. Stop being such a girl. he thought to himself.
06-25-2007, 09:55 PM
Rio descends to meet up with his panicked companion before noticing the spider.
"Oh man... Masaru, you're not arachnophobic are you? Because if you are, you'd better get over it in a second." Looking around, Rio notices the smaller side tunnel. "So the kid is in there. Looks like we don't have much choice. Killing spiders is supposed to bring rain, right? Let's hope this one doesn't bring a flood."
With a quick look again, Rio smiled a little. "Doesn't look like the spider will be able to attack us in either tunnel. Gives us a bit of an advantage, eh?"
06-28-2007, 12:43 AM
Masaru, being the last one to arrive at the opening, noticed the spider. "Oh...big spider." he commented in his concise way as he shouldered his way out of the tight space. He kept his hands weapon-free, circling around the back wall to keep the spider within sight and some room between it and himself. Nonetheless, he was making himself a target so the others could do their own thing. "Get the kid." he advised.
Initiative: 1d20+3=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1124925)
06-28-2007, 04:10 PM
Noticing Masaru putting himself in sight of the spider, Michiko grins and moves into position beside him. "Awfully heroic of you to take one for the team, but I've got an alternative to being eaten."
She performs a quick succession of hand seals, a brief moment of focused determination as her hands blur with the motion. Upon completing the last seal, a smug grin tugs at the corner of her mouth as a cloud of thick mist envelops first the spider, then spreads to cover much of the open area.
"Kirigakure no Jutsu," she murmured. "Now, get the kid."
Initiative: 1d20+7=17 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1125903)
Ninjutsu: Kirigakure no Jutsu (DC 17):1d20+13=17 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1125907)
50 foot radius, 30 foot high cloud of mist, centered on the spider.
Chakra Control, convert 4 HP into 4 CP (DC 18):1d20+9=28 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1125915)
06-28-2007, 06:53 PM
Rio grinned as the mist appeared. Quickly grabbing an exploding tag, he wrapped it around a kunai, taking time to make it a bit more powerful. ((Consumes two chakra points, increasing damage on tag to 4d6)).
"Thanks for the cover Michiko. Go get the kid, the spider can't fit in the tunnels. We might get out of here without a fight, if we're lucky."
Initiative 1d20+2=17 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1126183)
06-28-2007, 09:26 PM
"We can't see it either, you know." Masaru said as he crept forward towards where the other opening was and where the kid supposedly hid. Assuming he got there without incident, he would squeeze himself in to avoid the giant spider. "Kid? Don't be scared, I'm here to help." he said aloud, hoping for some kind of answer to let him know the child was alive.
06-28-2007, 10:10 PM
With a plan in motion Michiko focuses her chakra to bring force a dense mist that obscured the sight of all there and presumably the spider as well. As Rio rolled an explosive tag around one of his kunai, Masaru creeps forward silently towards the spot he last remembered the smaller tunnel to be located at...
For Masaru only:
He makes it a good ways across the 'bowl' that he feels a feeling of hope welling up at his chances of passing through this successfully when he feels his whole body jerk. Looking down, wispy strands of webbing where clinging to his foot...and upon closer inspection almost covered him from the waist down. Now alone in the mist and not even able to see anything he goes still for a second and strains to hear if the spider had noticed the 'fly' in it's trap...
The two genin in the tunnel listen carefully for any noise that might signal that Masaru had succeeded or failed but could hear nothing from the bottom of the bowl. Then as if in response to their attempts, they all hear the sound of a dislodged rock come tumbling down the sides to clatter on the floor...
06-29-2007, 12:58 AM
Masaru stopped dead in his tracks, his mirrored eye lenses looking about for any sign of immediate danger before he started struggling to pull his feet and waist free of the webbing that surrounded it. He was in bad shape. If that implacable mask could register concern, it would be doing so at that exact moment.
07-05-2007, 10:40 AM
Hearing the rock tumble, Rio turns in the direction. Unable to see Masaru, he calls quietly. "Masaru, was that you?" he asks, tightening his grip on his kunai.
Listen check to determine what caused the noise, and hopefully where it is. 1d20+4=23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1136630)
((EDIT: Was given the information resulting from said check, and told to act on it))
Rio slowly heads towards where he can hear Masaru struggling. When he approaches Masaru, Rio hopes to attempt to help him, by cutting the web around him.
Spot check to see the webbing 1d20+3=16 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1136649)
07-08-2007, 05:24 PM
Something should have happened by now, the girl thought. Masaru's the quiet type, but I should be able to hear the kid, if not the spider too.
Closing her eyes, Michiko concentrated chakra into her nose, sniffing the air for familiar--and not so familiar--scents. She listened carefully as well, hoping to pick up on some auditory clue as to what her teammates had encountered.
Listen: 1d20+6=26 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1141575) (Natural 20)
Chakra Control: Hakken no Jutsu (DC 15): 1d20+9=27 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1141564)
Chakra Control, convert 4 HP into 4 CP (DC 18): 1d20+9=28 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1141571)
07-08-2007, 11:42 PM
With the thick mist covering the area, a pregnant pause had fallen over the bowl as if one was waiting for a predator to strike out. If that was the spider or the genin was anyone's guess though. Rio stealthily approached towards Masaru, seeking to aid out his companion in whatever struggles he might be embroiled in. But when he reached the silent taijutsu user he only found himself in a similiar predicament with sticky strings of webbing holding him tight. Masaru on the other hand seemed oddly...limp. One couldn't worry about that too much at the moment because he could hear the spider scuttling about on the floor of the bowl, the rock earlier must have been the spider descending from it's perch...
Michiko's chakra enhanced sense of smell provied it's merit in only a few seconds after she began to sniff around. And what she smelled made her reel. The spider's aproximate location was fairly easy to detect, it was large and smelled of ichor and blood. Then there came the smell of ink hidden in the mist and flailing about trying to get free. Close to it was probably the most horrible thing she had ever smelled, a mix of disinfectant and burnt meat. From the hole in the wall she could scent fear and...candy?
07-14-2007, 11:22 PM
Rio cursed silently to himself. This was definitely a bad situation. "Way to go, Rio. Not only do you botch helping him, you get stuck yourself. Nice work."
Rio snaps out of it and attempts to slice the webbing around his legs. Unfortunately, he is unable to muster the necessary strength to break them due to the awkward angle. He curses as his strike in ineffective. "Looks like it's up to Michiko now."
Looking in his comrade's direction he whispers quietly. "Masaru, are you able to get free?"
07-14-2007, 11:30 PM
Looks like the mist isn't helping stop that spider any... And Rio and Masaru are stuck. If I move to help them, I'll probably get tangled too, so I have to keep this thing away from them while the get free.
Making a quick set of half-seals, Michiko took a deep breath...
Here goes nothing...
... and shouted at the top of her lungs. "HEY! Over here, you stupid hairy bug! What'samatter, can't keep track of one little girl?
Oddly, Michiko's voice reverberated from the other end of the bowl, as if she were standing at the edge.
Ninjutsu: Utsusemi no Jutsu (DC 14): 1d20+13=33 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1151782) Gawd, why a 20 when I could have succeeded on a 1?
Chakra Control: Convert 1 HP to 1 CP (DC 14): 1d20+9=14 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1151784)
07-17-2007, 12:51 AM
The silence was shattered when Michiko's voice came echoing down from the lip of the bowl but for a long tense moment nothing changed. Then, for Rio at least, everything exploded into motion around him and Masaru. A dense ominously black shape began to move through the fog quickly towards them and soon enough the monstrously huge spider came into view with a loud piercing shriek of hunger. Ichor splashed on the ground as it shrieked once more and bore down on the silent but struggling Masaru.
The hideous insect bore the black garbed genin to the ground, sinking the katana sized fangs into his body. It's huge bulk obscured most of Rio's horrified vision, along with the mist, but when the arachnid rose up once more the shape on the ground as still and the spider's fangs were leaking poison, but it seemed more then a little distract and started to turn towards the source of Michiko's voice.
07-18-2007, 02:54 PM
True to his usual stoic self, Masaru didn't make more than a grunt of pain when the huge arachnid speared him through the torso with its huge fangs. He spasmed and bucked in its grip, blood welling up and leaking through the front of his mask where he'd coughed it up as well as pooling on the ground underneath him. He used his gloved hands tried to stab at the thing's eyes with his thumbs but he seemed to be rapidly losing strength. After a moment, he simply went limp and the thing just left him on the ground.
07-24-2007, 08:58 AM
Hearing the spider's horrid screeches, Michiko became increasingly nervous, chewing her lip in anxiety. She squinted through the mist in vain, trying to see even a glimmer of what had transpired.
What the hell was that? Did it get them? What happened?
She hesitated a moment, then called out in a tentative half-whisper,
"Rio? Masaru? Are you guys alright? Listen, we gotta get this kid and get outta here. That spider won't be distracted for very long."
Slowly, she makes her way towards where she had smelled the two before, fingering a kunai in her hand.
08-13-2007, 09:20 PM
Michiko's decoy proved to be of use though it came too late for Masaru. It vanished into the mist heading in the direction of the voice as Rio struggled with the webs to get free. Making no great progress he looked over his shoulder to yell back to his teammate as rocks cascaded down the side of the walls.
"It got Masaru! And I'm stuck in webbing, you have to try and get the child if you can but be careful!"
((A short update but not much happened. The spider moved towards the noise. Rio tried to break the webbing and rolled a seven. In any case we need to pick things up faster here.))
08-13-2007, 11:32 PM
With the spider--and her teammates--temporarily dispatched, Michiko springs into action, casting aside her previous caution. Trotting towards the opening where she had smelled the child, she attempts to squeeze into the opening, keeping an eye out for any spiderwebs.
Gotta hurry, that big bug's not going to be distracted for very long.
"Try and get yourself out while I get the kid, Rio, and grab Masaru if you can. If not, I'll cut'cha out when I get back," she called before ducking inside.
08-14-2007, 03:08 PM
As the spider headed to investigate the sounds Michiko had made, it would have no idea that it too was being watched. Through the fog it was rather hard to do, but the spider was a large target, so Masaru managed. About the time Rio noticed that Masaru's body next to him had become nothing more than a pile of splintered and shattered wood was the time the scarred taijutsu user was walking soundlessly across the vertical wall, sticking his feet to the rock with carefully channeled chakra. He waited until the spider had begun poking its head into the crack where Michiko had wedged herself that he let his feet go and fell the ten or fifteen feet down onto the spider's back, his heels leading. He flipped once in the air to gain momentum then caught the spider right on its many eyes with a resounding crack of feet hitting its carapace as a deep voice echoed across the small cavern, "Taijutsu Ougi! Rendan Kidouki!!" (Taijutsu Secret Technique - Combo Starter)
Okay, using the combo starter. If this succeeds, the spider should be flat-footed and loses its action next turn so Masaru can immediately follow up. I don't think it gets a save. If possible, I'm going to take ten on the perform check (DC 18...more than enough to beat that.). Here's the attack roll...
Attack: 1d20+8=28 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1208472)
Confirm Crit: 1d20+8=18 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1208478)
Damage: 1d4+3=7 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1208483)
Critical Damage: 1d4+3=7 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1208485)
Yay!!!! Invisible Castle loves me today!!
08-16-2007, 06:59 PM
The voice boomed across the bowl as Masaru leapt from the edge to flip through the air towards the large spider that had turned with a hiss towards the blond genin trekking carefully across the ground towards the small hole. His feet cracked sharply off of it's carapace, shattering the chitin and flinging little globs of ichor into the air to splatter on the ground. Multiple legs thrashed and twitched in anger, black eyes turning to face this new assailant
Michiko carefully made her way across the ground towards the hole, steppping and ducking under various sticky threads of webbing that the other's had missed and made it to her destination. There she had to pause and stare at the thick and quite obviously man-made trip-wire that was strung across it. This close she could hear that the sobbing had quieted down and two big frightened eyes looked eagerly out of the entrance at the genin there. Carefully stepping over the wire Michiko crawled into the entrance to find a book wormish-looking boy huddled in one corner trembling, kunai held in one hand.
08-19-2007, 11:47 PM
So, since no one's posted I'm just going to drop this in there for whenever it's my turn again.
"Juuroku Rendan!!!" [Sixteen-Hit Combo!]
Masaru rebounded off of the spider, hit the ground in a crouch, then went charging in as it staggered back. Focusing his attacks on its vulnerable eyes and underside, the masked shinobi started a flurry of blows on the target. Using fists, feet, eye-gouges, knife-hands, knees, and elbows, he laid into the spider's armored, chitinous body, trying to crack it open with overwhelming force and end the battle quickly. If it survived the attack, he wouldn't have his teammates to rely on, so he had to make sure it wasn't going to get up. If this didn't finish it off, he had something in reserve that he hoped would...
Okay, so here's the crunch. Perform DC is 20, so if I could take ten on that I can easily beat that as well. If not, here's a roll: 1d20+13=29 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1215766).
Juuroku Rendan deals 5d6 damage, doesn't say if STR mod adds to it so I'm going to assume it doesn't: 5d6=23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1215768).
The spider has to succeed in a Fortitude save or be stunned for 1d4=4 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1215770) rounds afterward.
08-20-2007, 09:59 AM
Squeezing through the opening, Michiko grinned when she spotted the boy.
"Hey kid, sorry that took so long. Did you see the huge spider out there? Don't worry about that, though, one of my friends is squishing it."
Dusting herself off, she extended a hand and offered a friendly smile.
"C'mon, let's get you outta here. What's your name, kiddo?"
08-22-2007, 09:04 PM
Glinting glasses peered at Michiko as she extended her hand to the frightened boy, tear trails showing clearly on his face as he reached out and took the hand. "I-I'm Eteta Okoni...w-w-who are you?" He stuttered out to the blond girl, despite his caution, the kid was quick to pull himself close to the genin and peer out over her shoulder to where the spider was...
Masaru's blows drove the spider back, shrill shrieks of agony offset by the massive fangs it presented with it's cries. Still as the spider was driven back it's legs grew shakier and shakier and once the onslaught was finished it stood there, bobbing back and forth as if in a daze as it's bulbous thorax thudded to the ground by the frustrated Rio. "Geez! What are these webs made of, steel?"
Gah, short post. Rio rolls a 16 to try to escape his bonds and fails. The spider also fails it's fort save.
08-22-2007, 11:07 PM
Masaru stared at the shaken spider through the lenses of his implacable, black mask. The fight was over now, he thought grimly as he formed a seal with his two hands, then another. He was a bit shaken from all the chakra use, and it was beginning to take a strain on his body, but he had enough to make sure the spider wasn't going to bother them or anyone else ever again. He formed another seal. "Doton!" he announced as he placed both of his palms on the ground, chakra lancing into the dirt. "Douheki no Jutsu!" (Earth Split Technique)
Underneath the spider, the ground rumbled, crackled with energy, and then exploded with a loud CRACK!, throwing the spider, or pieces of it, skywards as the thunder echoed off of the walls of the bowl. If it was still in one piece when it landed, the arachnid wasn't going to be too terribly happy. and Masaru was going to be very surprised. He really hoped that finding the other children was going to be a bit easier...
Chakra Control to convert HP to Chakra DC 10: 1d20+9=25 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1220660)
Ninjutsu Perform DC 13: 1d20+10=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1220665)
Damage (x1.5 because spider is prone.): 2d6=9 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1220668) x 1.5 = 13.5 (Damage can be halved by successful reflex save.)
08-24-2007, 11:40 AM
"Me, I'm Chiba Michiko," she said, pressing a finger to her lips. "Try to stay quiet, though. We're going to go rescue my friend out there while the spider's getting squished. Think you can help me with that, Okoni?"
Squeezing back through the passage, Michiko beckoned for the boy to follow, keeping an eye out for the scattered webs. As soon as she was out, Michiko trotted over to where Rio was bound by the spider's webs, and withdrew a kunai from her pouch.
"Hold still, I'm gonna cut through these. Way to get stuck and be useless," she grinned. "Oh, and this is the kid," she added, nodding over her shoulder to the boy. "Gimme a hand, will ya Okoni?"
Kunai damage: 1d4+1=5 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1223258)
08-27-2007, 10:06 AM
Okoni followed along nimbly after his rescuer and went with her to the entangled Rio with his kunai in hand. Along with Michiko he worked at cutting into the webbing with his sharp little weapon and between the two of them they were making swift progress at cutting through Rio's problem.
Masaru's problem...ended much much sooner. With the use of the doton technique, and the spider's inability to escape out of the blast of dirt and rock, resulted in a sharp cracking noise. Carapace cracking and splitting under the assault, translucent goo seeping out of the spider as it gave one last death scream before collapsing to the ground, shuddering then growing still...
09-10-2007, 08:18 PM
Masaru slumped against the nearest rock for a moment to catch his breath as the spider's stinking corpse started to steam in the cold, filthy ichor running from the cracks in its armored carapace. He couldn't afford to rest for too long however, as he knew that carrion would definitely attract scavengers and other predators to the spider's nest that could kill them just as well as the spider might have. So, he made himself useful by hooking his arms under Rio's and dragging him out of the webbing once Michiko and Okoni had cut enough of the webbing away.
"We should go." he panted, still his terse, quiet self.
11-25-2007, 12:55 PM
There hardly seemed to be any disagreement as to simply leaving the, now at least, putrid little bowl and continuing on with the mission that had been assigned to you. Once you make it out of the tight passage way though, Rio clears his throat loudly and waits until your attention is on him.
"I'm going to lead Okoni here back to the front gate, it can't be safe to have him keep following us while we look for the others. Once I drop him off then I'll come back as fast as I can." No room for arguing in his resolute tone, Rio gave a confident nod to you and began to backtrack back along the way you had come from. Soon the both of you lose sight of him among the bland earthen brown walls of the training ground, leaving an almost tangible void with his absence.
With out wasting any time Michiko and Masaru continued their search for the missing children, now keeping a wary eye above them as well as around them. Nobody wanted to be caught unaware by a giant spider again.
At first it seemed a bit hopeless, with no sign of the little rugrats along the path you were taking but with two very close calls with exploding tag traps that had almost been tripped. But then Michiko caught sight of something that buoyed your hearts. An empty candy wrapper lay half covered in dirt on the ground, easily seen in the slightly wider (ten feet wide) passageway the two find themselves in. Even better when Masaru catches sight of something nestled behind a pair of large rocks, a white wrapped bundle that looked to be the size of a kid that squirmed or wiggled occasionally but otherwise made no movement.
11-25-2007, 01:07 PM
Ahem. I'd just like to say, "ZOMG NEW POSTS!!1111!!!!!oneone!!!11eleven" That is all. :smallbiggrin:
Masaru immediately hid himself under the cover of some brush and motioned for Michiko to do the same, not taking any chances in case there was yet another trap waiting for them. ((Hide: 1d20+9=20 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1391562))) It was a pretty obvious spot for someone to hide, especially a child training at the shinobi school. A while blanket on dark rocks? He was either incredibly lucky that nothing had tried to eat him yet, or it was an ambush. Then again...the spider could have gotten him and was saving him for later. Masaru couldn't immediately tell. So, keying his comm device, Masaru pulled a shuriken from his belt pouch.
"Stand by." he whispered just loud enough that the microphone taped over his throat would catch the sound.
11-25-2007, 01:13 PM
OOC: Bah, you posted while I was still typing. Lemme fix this one up.
Waving Rio off with a grin and a wry comment--something about spiderwebs--Michiko eagerly resumed her search for the missing students. It seemed like an eternity had passed since they started looking, yet it couldn't have been all that long. Her sharp eyes picked up a discarded candy wrapper, and she quickened her search, aided by Masaru's notice of the peculiar white bundle. She paused, stopping a few feet from the wriggling mass while her partner hid in the bushes.
"Well, there's got to be a kid 'round here somewhere, we might as well take a look. D'you think that thing might be... say, a kid wrapped up in spiderwebs?" She chuckled lightly to herself, "I hope it's not Rio."
Ever the brave one, Michiko fished a kunai out from her belt pouch and approached the white mass, ready to cut it open and reveal its contents.
I sure hope this isn't full of spiders...
11-25-2007, 01:31 PM
With Masaru taking up position to give Michiko cover, the blond genin approached the bundle and started to try and slice through it with her kunai. Surprisingly, the thread was remarkably tough and proved quite resilient to her efforts and the work was slow and hard. Luckily enough after the first slice she is more then able to see the form of a kid bundled up inside of the cocoon.
Attacking it with renewed vigor, it takes close to a half hour to saw open an opening big enough to pull the child out and when Michiko does she sees the truth of the scene. The child, another boy, was limp inside of the cocoon with an empty look on his face. Even once she tugs him into the light, he gives no response even though he's breathing weakly and easily alive. A haunted look lurks behind that vapid gaze and each one of his breaths seemed to be laborous to him as if extremely tired.
You can roll a Chakra Control Check DC (15):
RESULTS Oddly enough...and your really at a lost as to WHY but it's almost like the kid is suffering from severe chakra exhaustion
He carries no equipment with him, unlike the last one who had at least carried a kunai with him.
11-25-2007, 01:42 PM
Masaru watched as Michiko strode boldly up to the cocoon and started to cut the kid free. He expected that the culprit had been the spider he'd just killed...more hoped than expected, really. He knew he could kill another one if he had to, but he would be in no condition to perform a search afterward. And there were still five more children to find. Maybe they'd been smart and stuck together?
During the nearly half hour of work, Masaru kept watch for dangers. He was ready to spring into action in Michiko's defense, but he barely moved a muscle from where he was crouched in the underbrush. He stayed as still as he could so as not to give himself away.
Spot: 1d20+1=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1391599)
Listen: 1d20+1=9 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1391600)
When the kid was out, Masaru dared to whisper into his comm device again, pressing the tape to his throat. "He dead?" he asked matter-of-factly, to the point as always.
11-25-2007, 01:51 PM
Chakra Control: Take 10 +8 = 18
Michiko grumbled quite a bit in the half-hour it took to cut the boy loose, but her sweaty frustration passed as soon as she saw his condition. She snapped her fingers in front of his eyes several times, but the boy seemed almost completely catatonic. She sensed almost no chakra presence from him, which turned her mouth as she hefted his body out of the discarded webbing.
"Nah, he's not dead, just exhausted. You'd think they'd remember their Academy training and conserve their chakra, but no."
Setting the boy down gingerly, she patted her pockets, then turned to Masaru.
"Do you have any food or soldier pills, maybe? It'll be a real pain if we have to lug an unconscious kid around."
11-25-2007, 01:59 PM
Masaru moved out of the brush and helped Michiko carry the nearly comatose kid into the cover of some trees. Once there, he removed a small box from a breast pocket and flipped it open with a small click! Inside, several colored, unmarked pills lay in neat rows. He took one of the red pills between his thumb and forefinger and laid it in Michiko's palm.
"Soldier pill." Masaru explained. "He's going to be sick after we get him back to the village." Masaru didn't seem particularly concerned about that. It was more a statement of fact. As long as they got him back alive, then mission accomplished.
11-25-2007, 02:23 PM
"Better sick than dead, I figure. 'Sides, he might be able to tell us where the other kids might be hiding."
Bouncing it in her hand, Michiko eyed the pill casually, then gently opened the boy's mouth and unceremoniously stuffed it in. She knelt down to face him, resting casually on her heels as she waited for the pill to take effect. Idly drumming her fingers on her thighs, Michiko looked up at Masaru, questioning.
"So, this kids makes two, which means there's three more, right? How are we going to keep a gaggle of rugrats safe if we end up against more traps or monsters?"
11-25-2007, 02:31 PM
"Five more." Masaru corrected, holding up his hand. "Before we set out, sensei said...
The known children are as follows...Meni Suro...Roya Nimakon...Ihisu...Eteta Okoni...Fumonu Wanan...er...hmmm..what were the last twos names...but there are two more.
"We've found Eteta Okoni and this other boy, but that leaves five more." Masaru sounded frustrated through that mask. "As for how to keep them safe, we'll just have to keep them between us and hope we can slow anything down that might want to eat them. Hopefully they've learned enough at the academy to not be completely useless."
11-25-2007, 02:39 PM
Michiko takes the offered red pill and slips it into the kid's mouth. He doesn't respond right away, but in a minute or two his breathing is stronger and he seems less tired. However he stays in that same catatonic state that the two had found him in, not asleep...just sort of...staring listlessly ahead as if the lights were on but nobody was home.
There were several genjutsu techniques that could do something like this or similar to this, but pinning down the exact method just by observing the effects would be a little...difficult. It did look like he was mumbling something underneath of his breath now though, and when the two leaned down to hear it they could hear him repeating like a mantra "...two women...two women..."
11-25-2007, 02:49 PM
Masaru listened carefully to what the boy was repeating over and over again. Apparently it was not a simple case of chakra exhaustion the boy was afflicted with, but possibly some sort of genjutsu effect. Masaru knew next to nothing about genjutsu, so he wouldn't be of any help in figuring out a cure. In fact, he was more concerned about the "two women" that the boy spoke of.
"Kunoichi?" he asked Michiko, leaving his other guesses unspoken since as of yet they held no weight.
11-25-2007, 02:57 PM
After poking the boy in the ribs a few times, Michiko shrugged.
"Huh. I think he's under the effects of some kinda Genjutsu technique, though which one, I dunno. What kind of technique lasts this long, anyway?"
Placing a hand under his arm, Michiko rose to her feet, pulling the boy up with her, brushing dust from her pants.
We probably shouldn't stay here much longer, I don't think, especially if there's other ninja around," she said to Masaru.
Holding the boy by his shoulders, Michiko looked down into his eyes, at least trying to get him to hear her.
"You okay to walk, kid? I don't know anything about these women, but if you follow us, you can go home."
11-25-2007, 03:16 PM
"If he doesn't wake up we should dump him outside and come back for the others. He'll only slow us down." Masaru said as he placed himself underneath the kid's other arm so that they could move semi-normally. The others were bound to be around somewhere. "Let's search around first, though." he added, then started them moving. Between the two of them they had ample strength to carry the child and stay to the mission.
11-25-2007, 04:12 PM
The boy remains in his catonic vacant state and after a moment of waiting to see if there was any response, Masaru shrugs and shoulders the relatively light load unto his shoulders. This wasn't long before he heard a surprised voice coming from the ninja com device.
"Masaru? When did you get one of these things?...Nevermind that right now, report the status of your mission. I found two of our objectives already, Roya Nimakon and Ihisu and I'm on the trail of a third." A crackling pause then as if saying to someone close by before turning on the comm device again. "No matter what though, keep your guard up. I don't think we're alone in here, and I'm not talking about venomous creatures either."
11-25-2007, 04:22 PM
The boy remains in his catonic vacant state and after a moment of waiting to see if there was any response, Masaru shrugs and shoulders the relatively light load unto his shoulders. This wasn't long before he heard a surprised voice coming from the ninja com device.
"Masaru? When did you get one of these things?...Nevermind that right now, report the status of your mission. I found two of our objectives already, Roya Nimakon and Ihisu and I'm on the trail of a third." A crackling pause then as if saying to someone close by before turning on the comm device again. "No matter what though, keep your guard up. I don't think we're alone in here, and I'm not talking about venomous creatures either."
Is that Keimatsu or Rio? Their text colors keep changing.
"Aye. We've found one more of them in a cocoon, but he's in a catatonic state and won't come out of it so I don't know his name. He keeps repeating, 'two women, two women'. We're going to keep him with us while we search for the other two children." Masaru said into his comm device., using his free hand to press the tape against his throat.
11-25-2007, 04:56 PM
It's Keimatsu's voice. Purple and Pale Turquoise go to Keimatsu because I keep forgetting which is the 'official' voice color.
"Understood. You've only managed to find one of them so far? You three better step up the pace, this is no time to take your time." The voice paused then...the silence dragging on for a couple of minutes before an exasperated voice came through the ear-piece. "Damn..I thought Roya was just frightened senseless but she's catatonic too. Don't worry about that, I'm familiar with genjutsu and depending on the strength of the ninja who did it and how long he was in there, it should wear off on it's own. Keep an eye out for someone trying to use it on you, it's called 'Magen-Shinkei Nigai (Demonic Mirage-Nervous Convulsions) and it can be brutal if you don't fight it off...to think somebody used it on a child..."
Once the kid wakes up, will you guys lead him back to the entrance or just have him follow you?
11-25-2007, 05:03 PM
"We've found two of them so far. Rio is on his way back with the first, Eteta Okoni. Michiko and I have the other with us. We're going to find one more and bring them back with us. We won't be able to carry more than two if they're all like this." Masaru reported. "Let's go. There should be two more." he nodded to Michiko.
If Michiko doesn't have a comm device, Masaru will relay all pertinent information to her.
11-25-2007, 10:08 PM
Michiko does have a comm device, but let's wait for her next time, mkay? Sheesh.
Letting Masaru relay their status to Keimatsu, Michiko ambled ahead, looking for tracks or anything else that might lead to finding another of the missing children. She laughed to softly, murmuring a comment to herself about Masaru's sudden loquacity but stopped dead after hearing her teacher's reply.
The creak of stretched leather broke the long silence, her clenched fist shaking. Michiko's voice, however, was icy calm.
"Keimatsu-sensai. Do you know who would have done this? Tell me everything."
Quickening her pace, Michiko trotted briskly through the passages, scanning the area for any sign of of danger or a trail. She hoped to find these two women before they found her--and bring to them exactly what they had earned.
What kind of person would attack a child? These Academy runts don't know the sharp end of a kunai from the handle and those women... This won't go unpunished.
Search: 1d20+3=19 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1392149)
Spot: 1d20+5=8 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1392158)
Listen: 1d20+5=17 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1392158)
11-26-2007, 08:26 AM
Hehe, it was just conversation. n.n;
"It's hard to say who could have done this...Any Chuunin with a more then passing interest in using genjutsu could learn the Magen-Shinkei Nigai, its hardly one of the more advanced Magen techniques. I can even do it myself. Keep your focus Michiko-kohai, this is rescue first and an attack second, don't forget, and I want the children found first. After that we'll see about capturing the two women for interrogation. Keimatsu, out."
The jounin's side of the comm went dead (Though he'll respond if you ask any more questions), leaving the two genin with their thoughts and a comatose Academy student. Michiko's search did prove of some use for she found four sets of foot prints in the soft ground of the training ground. Two sets of them were smaller then her own foot prints and picked up a more jagged pace another ten feet down the passage way. while the other two were large. Steady from what she could tell, not people in any particular rush.
With a nod between the two of them, Masaru re-adjusted the kid's weight on his shoulder before the two continued along the north-westerly corridor of stone before it came to a split. One path doubled back along to the South East, running parrallel to the one they had just been on before veering sharply to the east and Keimatsu's half of the training ground. The other path stayed to the east and actually seemed to be heading for the outer edge of the training ground, signaling (perhaps) another entrance into the grounds. One of the larger set of foot prints too the south east path, but the others stayed to the east...
11-26-2007, 10:57 AM
"East. Sensei can handle the other." Masaru said, crouching down to examine the two sets of footprints along their chosen path. These two were obviously just toying with a bunch of terrified children, taking their time and mopping them up. If they were shinobi then there was a chance that they were chuunin or stronger, but if they'd split up there was a chance that the two genin could overpower one. If it was the genjutsu user they would have to hit hard and fast before she could use one of her mind-attacking techniques on them. She might be weak against taijutsu if she spent all of her time learning genjutsu, but he couldn't assume that at this point.
Masaru shifted the boy's entire weight onto his back, holding him under the legs and throwing the boy's limp arms over his shoulders. One of them was going to need to be able to react quickly and Michiko hadn't already been in a fight today so she was still fresh as far as he knew. He looked to her for any objections before nodding and setting off down the path.
11-26-2007, 01:38 PM
Michiko stared down the southeast passage, following the tracks with her eyes and tapping her foot in consternation. After a moment, she nodded and turned to the southeast and Masaru.
"Right. Splitting up would leave us vulnerable, and I don't want to chance a fight with a Chuunin by myself."
Kneeling to peer at the footprints that traveled east, Michiko ran a finger through the dust, rubbing it between her fingers. She stood and dusted her hands with a look of confidence.
"These are pretty fresh and it doesn't seem like anyone made an effort to cover their tracks. Shouldn't be too hard to track 'em, I don't think."
Setting a comfortable pace for herself and her burdened teammate, Michiko started down the east passage, seemingly more relaxed, yet keenly focused on following the trail. Without looking up, she murmured to Masaru,
"Gimme a yell if you see anything. I can't keep my eyes everywhere."
Survival: 1d20+5=17 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1393108)
11-26-2007, 04:19 PM
With a silent nod from Masaru, the two set off carefully along the eastern path with their eyes all about for any sign of a sneak attack from this mystery person. The meandering path doubled back on it several time, and there were...hazards that they encountered along it. Luckily the only real threat had been a hastily dug foot trap with bungee sticks at the bottom which Michiko had been unlucky enough to step into (2 damage). Not long after that though Masaru could feel the weight on his shoulders shifting and when he looked, he found the kid stirring from his catatonic state.
Finding a safer place to pause for a moment, a deep bowl carved into the side of the wall (About 45 feet in and 20 feet wide) that was carefully examined before entering. Once the kid was set down he started to cry, pulling his legs up to his chest and rocking back and forth as his eyes darted from one of you to the other. Before you can question him on this odd behavior though, both of you can feel the ground shake and the noise of an explosion. Dust was shook from the cave roof but the source sounded far off, on the other side of the training area.
11-26-2007, 06:05 PM
Masaru's masked head snapped up to point towards the entrance of the cave when the ground shook and flecked his matte black ensemble with specks of dirt and dust. The explosion echoed some in the small depression, so he moved to the entrance to see if he could spot any smoke. It had sounded like it came from far off, most likely either a particularly nasty booby trap or Keimatsu-sensei had encountered one of the two women.
"Keimatsu-sensei." Masaru said back towards Michiko. He wanted to go help the jounin, but there was still more children out there and Keimatsu could more than take care of himself. The genin still had a job to do and at least one more woman/kunoichi/monster/whatever stalking the kids.
Masaru walked back to where the kid was crying and crouched like Spider-Man on the ground next to him. "What happened?" he asked the boy, the mirrored lenses of his mask unable to show any sort of concern or empathy. Michiko would have to make up for that.
11-26-2007, 06:49 PM
*snicker* Callos, for future reference it's a punji stick.
The rolling thunder of the far-away explosion caught Michiko's sharp ears, and her head snapped around to face toward the source. In all likelihood, Keimatsu had found himself some trouble--or started it--and suddenly she was very glad to have come this way. Turning to Masaru, she scowled then motioned to his comm device.
"Hey, don't scare the kid. Call Keimatsu-sensei and find out whether or not he's gotten himself blown up. If he doesn't answer, contact the village and request immediate backup."
Squatting down to face the little boy, Michiko put on her best smile--usually reserved for when she'd found herself in more trouble than she bargained for. In as pleasant a voice as she could manage, she tried her best to get a response from the boy--she'd hate to have to carry him all the way back.
"Hey, there. What's your name? Mine's Michiko. I can tell you're scared, but you know what? I think you can help us. See, we're lookin' for your friends and we're kinda lost. I'll bet you know where they went, right? Think you can help us out?"
11-26-2007, 07:08 PM
Shying away from the spider-like crouching Masaru, the boy twitches every now and then as his eyes go back and forth between them even faster then before. (Assuming Masaru listens to Michiko) Calming some when Masaru backed away, the boy turned his full attention to Michiko and answered in a pained voice.
"M-m-m-my name is G-G-Gojo Kotaro...H-h-how do I know your not an en-enemy too?"
At the cave entrance, Masaru can't see any sign of smoke from his position, but the rumbling dies off swiftly and it doesn't sound like theres any further explosions. When he tries to call Keimatsu, theres no answer at first, just static. Just when he begins to think it might be a good idea to call the village as well a voice comes over the comm-link.
"What is it? This is really not a good time for idle chatter, so make it swift." Came the welcome, if irate, voice of the jounin. Flames could be heard in the background but other then that Masaru can deduce no more auditory clues from what he was hearing.
11-26-2007, 07:14 PM
The emotionless mask turned to Michiko and he nodded in affirmation. He wasn't so great with kids...especially crying, scared out of their mind kids. So he walked back out toward the entrance of the cave for a signal and pressed the tape against his throat, opening the channel back up to his strange, little sensei.
"Sensei? Status? Over." he asked briefly through the line, a combination of his usual lack of verbiage and desire not to distract Keimatsu if he was in battle with the mysterious shinobi.
11-27-2007, 02:27 PM
"If I was an enemy, I would have killed you by now, dont'cha think? 'Sides, who was it that rescued you from that cocoon, huh?" she remarked, offering him a winning smile.
"And he's the one that killed that big ol' spider," she continued, pointing to Masaru.
Squatting there, hands on her knees, Michiko felt far too much like a babysitter, but she went on trying to calm the boy down, at the very least. Besides, she liked the little Academy runts. For the most part.
"We're here to rescue your friends, Gojo, but we can't do it without you," she began. "See, we've been trailing two of your friends for a while, but there's somebody older with 'em. Do you know who that might be?" she asked, hoping that he could be of some assistance. If not, she could always make Masaru carry him.
11-27-2007, 04:42 PM
"Caught one of them off guard and I'm subduing right now." Came the plain response before the voice was cut off once more...
"Umm..no..I didn't even see anybody following us at all. We were just trying to find our ways out after splitting up, and the next thing I knew I had been wrapped up in that co-c-c-coonn...and it f-f-f-felt like somebody was sucking out my c-c-chakra." Gojo responded despondently, bright eyes zeroing in on the genin who was speaking to him. Almost like he forgot completely about Masaru who was standing at the cave entrance. At one of Michiko's comments though, his face took on a puzzled look before responding.
"What spider? We never saw a spider."
11-27-2007, 04:55 PM
Masaru made it back to Michiko and the kid and squatted down next to them. "Keimatsu-sensei is battling one of them. Looks like the other's ours." he reported to Michiko. Then, turning his mirrored lenses towards the mouth of the small cavern and getting back up, he started walking back out again. "We should get moving."
11-27-2007, 05:42 PM
For such a simple admission, the boy's innocuous comment sunk Michiko's stomach like a stone. If the spider they had encountered wasn't what had traumatized the boy, what had? And the beast itself... had it even been real? She licked her lips nervously, then stood, shaking off the nervousness. Extending a hand to the boy, she pulled him to his feet with a grin, masking the doubts that roiled in her mind.
"Masaru's right, Gojo. It's time to move."
Michiko lengthened her strides to catch up with her teammate, leading Gojo by the hand to make sure he followed. Now back on the hunt and only slightly rattled, Michiko was all business. Lowering her voice, she stared straight ahead as they followed the trail through the passage.
"Masaru, the boy says he never saw a spider. It's possible he was caught by surprise, but I'm sure he would have remembered a giant beast wrapping him up like makizushi."
She hesitated a breath, then went on. "Keimatsu says the boy was afflicted by a genjutsu... perhaps the spider wasn't as real as we thought. I'm getting the feeling that this isn't going to be simple."
11-27-2007, 09:23 PM
This is an instance where you get music to set the mood of it all. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNlDXb5OllQ&feature=PlayList&p=E04671321A147B55&index=1) And a picture! (http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/7951/kimononinjafinalbymotorey5.jpg) (It's sorta big though...)
With Michiko leading along Gojo by the hand and Masaru widening his strides to take the lead of the other two, the two genin quietly traverse the rocky passageway in pursuit of the footprints along the ground. Luckily enough there were no more turnoffs to distract or possibly mislead them from their mission, but the upper lip of the passageway slowly grew closer and closer together until natural sunlight was blotted out by rock and farther it went. Electric lightening had been placed in the walls of the man-made tunnel, making the darkness a non-issue for the three ninja.
Farther up ahead you can hear the softly hummed notes of a song echoing off the walls, but it didn't sound like a child's melody nor like it came from a kid in the first place. Soon the passage walls began to widen and curve away from each other, a small cavern opening up before you. On the other side of this cavern you can see the light of day once more and a chain-link door much like the one that the two of you came through in the first place. Part of it's view was obscured by silky grey-ish white strands that spread out to connect to the archway at multiple points. At the center of this mass was a kidney bean-shaped mass that squirmed and kicked but nothing could be seen of what was actually IN the cocoon. Standing in front of it was a white haired young woman, running her hands along the cocoon's surface as if smoothing it to a flat surface. The source of the humming was emanating from this woman. A red kimono with stylized black clouds (Or was it black with red clouds?) hid her body from sight, decorative strands of grass along the sleeves. As you watch she pulls a stoppered tube from the sleeve of her kimono and poured it over the webbing, the humming ceasing.
Gojo shakes by Michiko's side, clenching her hand a lot tighter as the woman spins around gray eyes flashing as she stares at the entranceway to the cavern.
"Who's there? Come out of the shadows with your hands in the air!" Her voice was calm and self-assured, as if someone who was used to getting what she asked for, having a light airy voice that someone might associate with a noblewoman's daughter.
11-27-2007, 10:10 PM
Initiative: 1d20+7=16 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1395516)
EDIT: Once I know the turn order, I'll post real actions for Michiko.
As the earthen corridor narrowed, Michiko's steps quickened. This situation unnerved her, and walking into a dark tunnel felt remarkably like a trap. After all, the last passage she had squeezed through harbored a spider on the other side. Where might this lead, and to who--or what?
Just as she had collected herself she heard... humming? Not the voice of a child, it must have been one of the women the boy had mentioned. Refusing to let her nerves get the best of her--or the boy--Michiko patted Gojo's hand reassuringly as the three traveled through the darkened hallway. This would not end well, nor easily.
With her free hand, she fumbled an explosive tag from the confines of her belt pouch, slipping it up her sleeve for easy access. Only if necessary, she reminded herself. Only to protect the boy. She smiled at him, one her usual cheeky grins, but she did not feel it. Inside, Michiko was on edge, a coiled spring ready to leap into action. Whatever lay at the end of that passage, she was ready for it. She hoped she was.
As the cocoon and the kimono-clad woman came into view, Michiko slowed her steps, to a halt, grabbing Masaru's sleeve to stop him as well. Holding Gojo back, she pressed a finger to her lips with a wink and motioned him to stay back. This woman had preyed upon these children and that cocoon--it must hold the others. Whatever she had done, whatever she was doing, that mass of webs had to go first. "To destroy the cobweb, destroy the spider," she remembered. If necessary, she would.
After a long pause, Michiko called back.
"'Come into my chamber,' said the spider to the fly," she mused. "But I think you've caught enough flies."
11-27-2007, 11:21 PM
True to his rather shallow pool of emotional reactions, Masaru didn't seem to let the cavernous darkness bother him all that much. He stayed a few paces ahead, easing along as quietly as he could while keeping his lead on the other two. When the humming began echoing off of the rock walls all around him, his head turned slowly as if pointing an ear down the tunnel, as if he was a dog that had just perked up its ears.
When the tunnel came to the small cavern he let Michiko pull him back slightly towards herself and Gojo, but reclaimed his arm after her short tug. He kept himself loose and ready, his black bodysuit blending in with the darkness of the shadows around himself as he listened to the creepy humming the woman in the next room was doing. From where they were, Masaru could see the woman but apparently the gray-eyed beauty couldn't see in the dark and therefore remained unaware of their identities.
He let Michiko distract the woman while motioning for Gojo to hide and stay out of the way with a few hopefully obvious hand signals. If Michiko could hold her attention, Masaru could get the drop on her. At the very least he could cut the last child out of the cocoon and they could make a break for it if the woman proved to be too much for them. But at this juncture he was more than willing to take what she'd done to the kids out of her hide. The fact that she was a woman didn't enter into the equation after she'd hurt the children...now she was just the enemy.
He edged around, keeping to the shadows as much as possible, hoping to keep out of sight long enough to flank the strange kunoichi while Michiko did what Michiko did best.
Move Silently: 1d20+9=21 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1395664)
Hide: 1d20+9=29 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1395667)
Initiative: 1d20+3=13 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1395668)
11-28-2007, 10:41 AM
Unfortunately for the creeping silent Masaru, the strange kunoichi's back was barely inches away from the mass of web and cocoon that was hanging up in the archway. He can almost see her ear twitch at something, eyes flickering about the cavern in his direction but they didn't settle on him for longer then a second. Caution filtered into the confidence on her tanned face.
"Oh, I haven't caught any flies, just some maggots...now it's time to catch some nice juicy flies for my neesan. Maybe she'll find you more to her palette."
Resuming his slow creep towards the woman, Masaru couldn't help but notice her arms were oddly limp in the kimono's sleeves...Realization his him much like a brick would have, it was hard to notice since she was moving slightly, but there was movement in the front of her kimono. And if he was right and her arms weren't in the sleeves then that meant...hand signs!
Before Masaru's and Michiko's eyes, the kunoichi seemed to simply...meld in the with the walls and floor of the cavern, that ghostly smirk the last thing to disappear entirely. But where had she gone? And more importantly was she still here?
A DC 24 Ninjutsu check reveals the jutsu she just did.
Meisaigakure no Jutsu, Concealing Camouflage jutsu, a....well...concealing jutsu that hides ones presence from others. Powerful, able to keep a user hidden even while in direct sunlight or motion, it can still be seen through if one is looking carefully enough and the user isn't proficient with stealth themselves.
The order is...
11-28-2007, 12:29 PM
Masaru cursed silently to himself at not having acted more quickly to prevent her from camouflaging herself. Blending into the rock around her like that she could have been anywhere, waiting for one of them to come out into the open. Well, he guessed there was nothing left to do but exactly what the spider-like kunoichi expected him to do.
Focusing on a larger rock next to him, Masaru deftly performed several hand signals. Using Kawarimi no Jutsu, he melded back into the shadows while the aforementioned rock, now looking exactly like him, crept as quietly as it could towards the cocoon stuck in the webbing, kunai set to cut the child free. The original mirrored it out of sight, waiting for the kunoichi to attack so he could spring a trap of his own.
Ninjutsu Check DC 24: 1d20+9=25 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396396)
Chakra Control DC 10: 1d20+8=13 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396411) (2 HP converted to Chakra)
Kawarimi no Jutsu DC 12: 1d20+9=23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396414)
(Told to creep towards webbing. Or walk, if "creep' is too difficult a command.)
If she does come out and attack, Masaru is readying himself to spot a fake in the case she tries to decieve him as well. Here's the spot check.
11-28-2007, 05:15 PM
Ninjutsu (Identify): (1d20+11=29) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396925)
Spot: (1d20+5=12) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396934)
Ninjutsu (Perform: Kirigakure no Jutsu): (1d20+11=21) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396923)
Chakra Control (Converting 2 HP): (1d20+8=20) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396953)
Move Silently: 1d20+10=23) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396927)
Listen: (1d20+5=25) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1396941) (Natural 20)
From the shadows, Michiko watched the woman with intrigue. Her senses must have been impeccable to hear the near-silent Masaru, though she clearly was not as confident as she acted. Surrounded and surprised, she could not last long, no matter her skill. Just as Michiko felt her own confidence rising, the woman simply melted away! Eyes darting around the room, she hoped to catch a glimpse of the woman, even if only a flicker.
Stifling a curse, she chewed her lip a moment while her mind raced. This woman expected to fool them with an illusion, then strike, not escape. A careful eye could spot her, but waiting too long could endanger the cocooned children and stepping into the open would be giving up her advantage. She needed to end this quickly, but right now, this mysterious woman had the two of them at a loss. Not for long.
Quickly, Michiko formed the familiar hand seals of her favorite technique, while doing her best to commit the layout of the room to memory. Her eyes soon would not be necessary. With the last seal finished, Michiko smiled. A thick grey mist began to fill the room, starting from the center and spreading out to the walls, obscuring sight completely. Now, the field was even.
Stepping from her hiding place, Michiko crept silently towards the cocoon, swinging wide from where the woman had been standing and approaching it from the rear. Her sight gone, she moved through the mist with eyes closed, listening intently for any sign of movement. The scrape of sandals on stone, the whisk of moving skirts, even heavy breathing would be enough, she hoped.
11-29-2007, 03:11 PM
Everything was eerily quiet as both sides seemed to be waiting for the other to make a move. That all seemed to change as the thick mist sprouted up in the middle of the chamber and spread to encompass all of it completely. And then things seemed to become more active entirely. Any could hear the 'clone' of Masaru creeping across the chamber towards the cocoon, which is exactly where Michiko was heading as well.
At the end of her sortie into the chamber (About the middle of it), the female genin could hear some clumsy making their way across the middle of the chamber, cursing softly when her foot stubbed off of a rock. While still unseen, the woman apparently decided moving quietly was a more forgone conclusion judging from all the noise she was making...
She'll pass right next to Michiko next round...Bloody lousy rolls
11-29-2007, 04:25 PM
Masaru could feel irritation tugging at his focus when Michiko filled the room with mist, destroying any chance at his trap succeeding. Now he would be lucky if he could find his own feet, much less keep sight of the strange kunoichi long enough to land a solid blow. He'd probably attack Michiko by accident. Underneath his mask his features curled into a frustrated frown as he thought about what to do.
He'd let Michiko handle the spider-woman for now, he thought as he crept out of his now redundant hiding place and made his way towards where he remembered the web and the cocoon being. He kept his senses peeled for movement, hoping he could simply cut the cocoon and the web covering the chain-link fencing and get the kid outside. He figured there was a chance the kunoichi would wait until they were outside to attack them because of the damned mist. Or if Michiko engaged her first, they'd stay in the cavern long enough for Masaru to get the kid outside and come back to help.
Almost as an afterthought, he used his off-hand to surreptitiously loop a length of kousen around his other wrist, simply knotting it there before tying a noose with the other end of it. He palmed the wire and seemed to forget it as he crept closer towards the webbing.
Listen: 1d20+1=18 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1398351)
Move Silently: 1d20+9=23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1398347)
11-29-2007, 09:40 PM
The unbroken silence of the dim cavern sent chills down her spine. It did not seem like a battlefield, yet danger lurked within the stillness. Creeping cautiously through the dense mist, Michiko's sharp ears caught the sound of movement and she could not help but smile. This woman relied on her sight too much. Robbed of it, she stumbled about like a drunk mule. Masaru, though, he would not be very effective in this fog, not unless the woman practically climbed into his lap.
Hearing her blunder closer to her own position, Michiko licked her lips nervously. She had intended to let Masaru handle the woman while she herself freed the cocooned children, yet he was too far away and she too close. He could reach the children easier, now and this woman would be on top of her in a moment. Patting the tag she had tucked up her sleeve, Michiko nodded to herself. If she could distract the other ninja long enough, Masaru could break open that cocoon, and they could escape, perhaps even set up an amubsh for her.
Michiko stood very still now, waiting for bumbling kunoichi to stumble into her. The moment she stepped into her sight, the girl lashed out with her little fist, driving home a hammering blow. If this did not keep the woman's attention, nothing would. Regardless if her strike connected, she quickly stepped back after delivering the attack, blending once again into the concealing mist.
Attack Roll: (1d20+6=19) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1398328)
Miss Chance (20%): (1d100=93) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1398327)
Fist Damage (Nonlethal): (1d6+2=8) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1398869)
11-30-2007, 08:27 AM
With the woman and Michiko distracted, Masaru was left almost entirely on his own to do as he pleased and soon he could make out a whitish cocoon through the thick mist and the chainlink behind it. Pausing for a moment to make sure the coast was clear, the black-robed genin could hear the sounds of combat further out. (Masaru is only five feet away from the cocoon)
Luck was more then on Michiko's side as she punched out towards the older woman. A loud thwacking sound and the astonished look on the kunoichi's face was more then enough of a reward for the sudden un-planned attack but something in those rage filled gray eyes warranted backing up into the mist away from the woman. With a two quick hops the genin was out of sight of the woman, leaving her rubbing her sore cheek alone..
"You little bitch! Nobody hits Gumoshin Shina! NOBODY!"
Something that somehow managed to be feel wet and dry at the same time struck out of the mist, smacking into various points on Michiko's body and even more oddly sticking there as well. It was just as the genin began to look down at them that she realized what they were...Spider threads. But when had she summoned a spider?!
There was no time to ponder the question because the next thing Michiko knew the slack in the threads was all pulled out and she could feel something yanking on them. Hard. Hard enough to pull her up and into the air at a frightening pace, and for one second Michiko found herself completely surrounded by the mist...a sort of floating experience...and thats when she hit the ceiling of the cavern hard enough to bruise and knock the wind out of her. (4 damage) Whither it was luck or skill, she did manage to get her legs under herself as the strands broke off and she feel. Landing just right as to not injure herself further, but there WAS still the fact she was staring up towards where she had just impacted...(Hm..Wisdom check..survival if you have it Catch)
All she could hear then was the arrogant laugh of the kunoichi and the words. "Kumonendo no Jutsu. Enjoy your flight, tacky little girl?"
11-30-2007, 01:03 PM
When her blow connected with the ninja's face, Michiko felt a surge of satisfaction as she vanished back into the mist. A rising bruise would mar that pretty face and set her off balance quite nicely. Hearing the conceited woman shriek, she smiled. This was going well, she thought.
Until the webs struck her, that is. Flung upwards by the spidery threads, realization hit Michiko just about as hard as she hit the ceiling. This Shina was a web-spinner, possibly her sister too. The spider must have been their pet! It all made sense, despite her reeling head and she managed to land on her feet, albeit in a crouch, while spots danced across her vision.
Reaching into her leg holster, Michiko withdrew a kunai and quickly wrapped the hidden exploding tag around the hilt, imbuing it with a trickle of her chakra. After taking several quick steps away from the woman and towards the cavern's exit, she turned and hurled the weapon, aiming for the spot where the woman's voice had emanated. The thud of metal against earth brought a smile to Michiko's face and she concentrated, triggering an explosion that rocked the cavern.
Survival: (1d20+5=16) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1399821)
Attack Roll (Against AC 5): (1d20+5=9) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1399879)
Chakra Control (DC 14): Take 10 + 8 = 18
Explosion Damage: (4d6=11) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1399883)
11-30-2007, 01:12 PM
Masaru found an odd sense of satisfaction in hearing the woman's voice when she exclaimed her name in anger, committing it to memory for later recall. He hoped Michiko was doing well, but with the amount of struggling and the sounds of bodies and metal smacking the cavern walls he had no idea what was going on. All he could do was finish his task. When an explosion rocked the cavern he had to steady himself on his feet and wonder just what the hell Michiko was doing, but unless the cavern started collapsing he tried not to let himself get distracted.
He removed his chisa-gitana from his back and in one smooth motion brought it slicing horizontally over the cocoon's head, trying to dislodge as many of the silken threads at their anchor points as possible. He would repeat this cut along the sides as often as he needed to until the entire web was cleared away enough that the chain-link doorway was accessible. Only then would he see to the cocoon itself.
BE GONE, FOUL STICKY CRAP!
Attack: 1d20+6=25 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1401941)
Confirm Crit: 1d20+6=23 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1401944)
Damage: 1d6+3=8 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1401946)
Crit Damage: 1d6+3=6 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1401947)
12-03-2007, 01:12 PM
The noise of the exploding tag going off filled the cavern with the loud boom, black smoke mixing with the mist to give it an off-gray color not unlike ash. It was easy to miss the cry of pain that came from the person at the explosions epicenter, but that still didn't mean it wasn't there. In the silence following the explosion, Masaru could hear the very satisfying sound of his sword cutting through the webbing at the top of the archway leading to the chain-link fence.
With a dull thud the milky cocoon fell down to the ground and rocked back and forth a couple of times before laying still.
Michiko listened for the sound of her opponent, ears craning for any noise when she heard it, foot steps trying to creep across the cavern to the other side. It certainly seemed as clumsy as they had before.
12-03-2007, 10:31 PM
It seemed that Michiko was doing rather well against her opponent, so Masaru knelt down beside the fallen cocoon once his chisa-gitana had cut through the web in front of the fencing that anchored it. He was pleased that Michiko could hold her own against someone who could be a chuunin, but he still wanted to finish and get over to back her up as soon as he could. So, wedging his sword lengthwise in the cocoon, Masaru attempted to slice it through and open it up without harming the child trapped inside. He hoped that the kid hadn't been the victim of the genjutsu that Gojo had been. Speaking of which, he hoped that Gojo was keeping his head down so that they could come back around and get him once this was all over. One more child thrown into the mix would just make it that easier for the Gumoshin woman to make things harder on Michiko and Masaru.
12-04-2007, 02:30 PM
Michiko crouched low to shield herself from the shower of debris from the explosion she had created, but she rested easily on the balls of her feet, ready to spring in any direction. The blast had injured the woman at least partially, she reasoned, judging from her shriek. She had apparently found the good sense not to shout anymore, but her awkward footsteps still gave a reliable indication of where she was moving. Towards the opposite end of the cavern and towards Masaru, probably.
Hopefully he had at least made a dent in that weird cocoon, but Michiko wasn't about to take any chances. Masaru couldn't break those kids out and fight off a Chuunin at the same time, so it was time for some more of Michiko's particular brand of deception. She made a few quick hand seals and concentrated, changing the origin of her voice to the wall opposite her, hopefully someone behind the retreating kunoichi. Putting on her best ventriloquist performance, Michiko sneered audibly, infusing her voice with enough mocking vitriol and volume to catch the woman's attention, she hoped.
"You're goin' the wrong way if you're trying to escape, you ugly girl. I s'pose you could use another bruise, though. It might even up your face a little."
Confident in her ruse, Michiko thought to head towards the cocoon and the exit. If she could just fool the woman long enough, they all could escape unnoticed. This spider business had gone on long enough. And then Michiko's heart sank in her chest. Gojo was still at the entrance to the cavern and they couldn't escape without him. Changing direction, she crept towards the tunnel's mouth, where the boy had stayed put. She hoped. There were too many hopes in this plan, but she had bought time in the only way she knew how--recklessly.
Listen: (1d20+5=12) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1406471)
Ninjutsu (DC 14): Take 10 + 11 = 22
Move Silently: (1d20+10=24) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1406504)
12-07-2007, 03:06 PM
Masaru's efforts to cut the coccoon open proved useless, the webbing spongy and resilient at the same time and resisting the cutting edge of his sword. Luckily though it kicked after the attempt, a rather plain and obvious sign that whoever was in there was quite conscious and struggling to get out.
In another second though the footsteps approaching through the mist got closer and closer and Masaru could make out the red and black kimono that the woman had been wearing when he had seen her before but details were hazy with the mist all about..
With her retreat back towards the entrance to the small cavern, Michiko could easily place the general direction that the loud footsteps were traveling in, giving a sense of security to the genin. So it came as a surprise when she felt hands on both sides of her head, brushing blond hair back away from her face. The purring voice was close, right next to Michiko's ear and the genin could feel the weight pressing against her back as the woman spoke softly to her.
"Maybe it would balance it out, but I doubt you'll be the one to do it to me. Now that strapping kid in the black suit might be able too, but not you.."
Michiko needs to make a Will saving throw...
12-07-2007, 06:24 PM
Abandoning the attempt to cut the kid free for now, Masaru stood up to face the woman coming out of the mist at him with silent stoicism. He quickly calculated the situation, figuring that if Shina was the one who had made it out of the mists, then Michiko must be down or at least busy with something. Add to that that he had not one but two children to look after and he wasn't going to be able to outrun her with both of them tagging along and that left one option. He'd have to kill Gumoshin Shina first, or at least stall her until Michiko could rejoin the fight, then see about the kids.
Spot Check if it's a Kawarimi or something: 1d20+1=15 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412438)
You never know, it might be a trick.
Snapping his sword up into a ready position, Masaru concentrated for but a moment to send the chakra flowing in his veins into overdrive, pumping it through his body at a faster rate to achieve greater speed. In the mist he would look like nothing but a vague shape, a speeding blur to the enemy. He gritted his teeth as the cost of his new speed was taken out of his stamina, feeling himself weakening a bit as a result. He'd have to end it quickly.
Taijutsu Check to Perform Nidan Kousoku (DC 19):
Chakra Control Check to Convert HP to Chakra (DC 10):
Now at Speed Rank 2 for 3 rounds.
(+3 Jump, +2 Dodge, +2 Reflex, +2 Attack, +15 ft. Speed)
Shooting forward in an explosion of motion, Masaru curved around to one side of Shina and drove the point of his chisa-gatana towards her intercostals, that point under her arm that if he hit correctly he could slip between her ribs and pierce her heart. As per usual, he didn't taunt or yell a battle cry or make any sort of noise whatsoever. He was calm, brutal efficiency.
Attack: 1d20+8=21 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412430)
Spending Action Point: 1d6=6 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412431)
Corrected Attack Roll: 27
Damage: 1d6+3=8 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412433)
12-07-2007, 10:11 PM
Moving across the cavern through the dense mist, Michiko clung to the hope that she could reach the boy before this spider-woman. Just a few more feet and she could grab Gojo, sneak out, and leave Masaru to deal with the mess.
A voice stopped Michiko dead in her tracks, and a touch made her skin crawl and hair rise on end. The woman was supposed to be halfway across the room, not breathing down her neck! Turning, she lashed out behind her, swinging her balled fist like a wrecking ball.
"Yeah? I'll see about that!
And yet, as Michiko whirled on her heel to strike out at the surprise, she felt exhausted, as if she had run ten miles with Death at her heels the whole way. Her movements were sluggish and awkward, and what was meant to be a heavy-handed blow became a half-stumble and a lurch forward.
Attempting to collect her wits, Michiko shook her head groggily. What had this woman done to her? It was of little consequence now, anyway, and stopping Shina was more important than figuring out all her tricks. Steeling herself, Michiko prepared herself for whatever would come next. Preventing this woman from escaping was her highest priority right now, whatever the cost.
Attack roll: (1d20+6=12) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412502)
Fist damage: (1d6+2 nonlethal) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412504)
Michiko has readied a move action to follow Shina if she attempts to move.
12-08-2007, 08:13 PM
With his chakra enhanced speed, it was all too easy for Masaru to slip inside of Shina's guard and drive the blade home between her ribs. As the blade sunk up to the hilt inside her chest though, the efficient genin could see the lack of a surprised or hurt reaction on her face and that was all he needed to see to know he had been duped.
It was confirmed a second later when 'Shina' collapsed into a rock rubble at his feet with no sign of the woman who had supposedly been standing there only a second ago. A substitution, easy enough to deduce considering that Masaru had used such a technique himself both in the Academy and not so long ago in practice when he used it against the giant spider. He can pick out the noise of Michiko and, his guess, the real Shina back toward the opposite side of the cavern.
Shina seemed to have anticipated the violent response, raising her hand up to catch Michiko's wrist and pushing the hand out of aim while pivoting on one foot until she was at the Genin's side and leaving Michiko off-balanced. It gave the perfect opening to sneak in a strike against the blond haired genin but the older teenager declined and just gave that arrogant laugh of hers, eyes glittering in the mist as if she knew something no one else did.
"You know, I've always heard the kunoichi of Kagekure were the worst ninja out here, but you give even them a bad name! C'mon blondie, even children can throw a punch better then you!"
The penalty I told you about over AIM increases to -4 this round Catch, same feeling of drowsiness too, except more pronounced.
12-08-2007, 08:32 PM
Masaru left the pile of rubble where it lay, instead deciding that it was about time he helped Michiko while he still had the chakra to spend on his enhanced speed. So, attempting to hone in on their voices, Masaru headed back towards the opposite end of the cave where they'd left Gojo. He wouldn't be able to do anything but run around in the next few moments, but at least he'd be in a position to help Michiko. If at all possible, he'd approach from Shina's flank or rear in an attempt to surprise her. If the two women caught a hint of his motion near them all they would most likely be able to pick up would be a blur of motion, a stirring of the mists, and maybe the sound of a few footsteps or the flash of a blade as it caught the light.
Moving 45 ft or running if it's more than that to cover the distance back to help Michiko. He figures the children will still be there once Shina's been defeated and if they can't beat her the kids are in the same situation as before so no reason not to just end it. The first three rounds of Rank 2 Speed will end after next round.
Here's a listen check if I need it to find them in the mists. Spending an action point as well.
Listen: 1d20+1=13 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1414580)
Action Point: 1d6=4 (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1414583)
Adjusted Listen Check Result: 17
12-09-2007, 02:04 AM
Stumbling off-balance, Michiko managed to catch herself, if only barely. Her head felt like a lead weight, and her limbs like bricks. She struggled to think, but it was a battle to even stay upright and her eyelids threatening to close at any moment. Her thoughts felt... slow, like a cloud as thick as the mist had been wrapped around her mind. This woman had to be stopped... and the boy, he needed to get out. No time to waste. She had to end this now.
And then flash of clarity shot through Michiko's mind. Reaching into her belt pouch, she retrieved a small slip of paper as she fumbled a kunai out of her leg holster. Holding the weapon in two hands, she pressed the seal onto the hilt, leveling the point at Shina with a glare. She raised it above her head to throw but staggered, dropping the weapon at the woman's feet.
Michiko then grinned wickedly.
A tremendous explosion suddenly shook the cavern, engulfing the two in flames, sending up a shower of debris and thick plumes of smoke. A soft thud can be heard in the strained silence that follows, the body of a small girl falling to the earth.
Attack Roll: (1d20+1=8) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1414835)
Chakra Control (DC 18): (1d20+4=15) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412854)
Action Point: (1d6=4) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412848)
Explosion: (6d6=22) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1413643)
Reflex Save: (1d20+3=15) (http://invisiblecastle.com/find.py?id=1412846)
All relative rolls have been adjusted for the -4 penalty.
12-14-2007, 05:39 PM
With another cracking explosion from explosive tags, the entirety of the cave fell into silence, except for the sound of Masaru hurrying across the cave to try and find his team-mate or his opponent which ever came first.
It seemed that something was looking out for Michiko because she was the first one that the black garbed Masaru came across. The blond genin was stretched out across the ground where her body had fallen after bouncing off of the wall. She was fast asleep though it didn't look as if a single wound was on her. Leaving her be for just a moment, Masaru continued in his diligent search and eventually came across the unconscious form of the spider-woman who had assaulted them. The sleeves of her kimono had been burned away, mirrored by the black burn marks along her arms, face, and neck that had been exposed to the blast. The arms more so then anything since it seemed as if she had tried to block the flames.
Somehow Shina was still breathing, drawing in gasping breaths through charred lips, but she was out for the count.
12-14-2007, 06:04 PM
Masaru crouched by the Shina woman. She was still breathing, but obviously unconscious. He looked back at the similar form of Michiko on the ground some ways away and nodded in respect for what the other genin had done. This woman was dangerous, and Michiko had taken her on one-on-one and beaten her through her own unique brand of deception and attack. Masaru had gained a new respect for Michiko after seeing that she had gone all-out against her opponent. The Shina woman might possibly be a chuunin, and Michiko had beaten her. That took either genius or the kind of determination he didn't often see in his fellow genin.
Still, Shina was dangerous. He took that length of kousen he'd been holding and untied it from around his arm. Using that, he bound Shina's hands and gagged her using a length of cloth from her kimono. He debated simply killing her, and truthfully he would have felt no remorse for doing so, but it would be better if they could interrogate her for information as to why she was even there in the first place. The way he had her tied up, she couldn't perform any seals nor make use of anything that required her voice to activate. Nor could she annoy them if she woke up. He dragged Shina's body back over to where Michiko lay and laid a hand on his throat to activate his radio. He hoped Keimatsu-sensei was still in range. "Sensei, Michiko has disabled our attacker and we have her in custody, but Michiko is down as well and I have two of the children with me. I will attempt to get them moving, but some help would be appreciated if you are finished there." he said.
He lightly slapped Michiko's cheek, trying to get her to wake up, while at the same time turning his head toward the back entrance of the cave and calling, "Gojo. Come here, please." He would then instruct the child to wait with his webbed-up friend at the chain-link fence on the other side of the cave for the moment while continuing to rouse Michiko. Throughout, he kept an eye on Shina for signs of wakefulness as well, in case he had to put her down again or for good. He had to get Michiko moving, free the kid who remained trapped in Shina's webs, carry Shina, and get all of them out.
12-17-2007, 06:09 PM
Lying sprawled across the earthen floor, Michiko stirred after a few minutes, sitting up slowly and scrubbing at her eyes with her fist. She blinked a few time and glanced around the cavern, noticing the absence of the mist and Masaru standing over her. Touching her cheek, she looked up at him with slight grin.
"Sir, I don't remember ordering a wake-up call, but if that's how you do it around here, remind me to skip the complimentary breakfast," she said, ruining the sarcasm with a stifled yawn. "How long was I out, anyway?"
With a kip up to her feet, she rose and stretched, glancing about the room and rubbing the stiffness out of her neck. The hard ground had not been an ideal location for a nap, regardless of how short it was. Clear of the mist, the cavern seemed far smaller than it had earlier, and she let out a low whistle when her eyes fell on Shina's burned form.
"Eeesh, she's not too pretty anymore. Well, better her than me, I guess. She still alive?" she asked over her shoulder.
Despite her cheeky composure, Michiko's stomach turned at the sight of the woman, scorched and crumpled on the cavern floor. She had been cruel and manipulating, a true spider preying on helpless children, but Michiko hoped the woman had survived. It made her uncomfortable, the idea of killing another shinobi, so she ripped her gaze from Shina's body and crossed the cavern to peer down at the silken cocoon.
"How's about we cut this thing open, eh? I'd like to get these kids out before they end up all mentally scarred and twitchy."
12-17-2007, 09:14 PM
"All wrapped up here, heading for an exit right now. I'll meet you there." Keimatsu's message was brief and too the point, cutting off quickly and with a strain in his voice that most likely came from carrying a heavy body.
With the both of them working at it at the same time, it was simple enough for Masaru and Michiko to rip open the cocoon to reveal it's contents. Two pairs of wide eyes stared up at the two genin as both of the Academy students awkwardly climbed free of the webbing to look around with confusion in their eyes. That changed though as Gojo came running into the cavern straight towards the other children.
Laughter came from all three of them easily now that they were re-united with each other, and their excited babbling was refreshing for the two injured or weary genin. With a bit of resignation to him, Masaru went over to the unconscious ninja who had assaulted them and the children, checking her vitals and quickly finding a weak, but steady, pulse.
12-18-2007, 12:25 AM
"Yes, Sensei. Michiko and the children have woken. we are moving." Masaru said as he walked over to where Shina still lay, breathing harshly through her burned countenance. Something unexplained went through him as he saw where she would scar unless a medical ninja properly saw to her and he touched his mouth and cheek through his own mask. Being like Shina in any way was...disturbing. He hoped they returned her to her pale perfection just so they wouldn't share anything. Besides, he wondered what damage it would do to her psyche if she became the monster he was outside that she already was inside.
"She will live unless there are some internal injuries I am unaware of. I like her better unconscious." Masaru said in reply to Michiko's question. He hoisted Shina onto his back in a fireman's carry and made his way back to the others. The children had been reunited, and their frenzied excitement was nearly infectious. Masaru had to watch them for a moment, his head tilting slightly to the side in an almost sad way, despite the emotionless mask that was his only expression. Fortunately, he was able to quickly shake it off and get back to business. "Let's go, Michiko." he said, nodding towards the fence that remained the only barrier left barring their way to the outside world.
12-19-2007, 11:33 AM
The sight of bouncing children and the sound of their laughter raised Michiko's spirits and she happily joined them, hoisting Gojo up on her shoulders and shepherding the other two towards the door at the end of the cavern. Their smiles were contagious, and she was not about to let a little thing like almost dying dampen her usual cheer. She fished a handful of candies out of her pockets, passing one to each of the children, making sure to learn their names and find out who was missing. Keimatsu probably had the last few in his custody, but she wanted to be sure.
Michiko was glad that Masaru was carrying the unconscious Shina. It made her uncomfortable, having almost killed the woman, yet she was still a little irate that someone would use a handful of Academy students like mice for an experiment. What had she intended, and what had her sister done? The mission was a success, she supposed, yet there was still much to unravel. No spider's web was ever simple, and this one by the spider sisters was probably far more complex than it appeared. At any rate, Michiko was glad to be leaving. The training grounds were treacherous, and she was tired, far more so than she had been in a long time. She looked forward to having a few days of rest and a few answers to some nagging questions.
12-29-2007, 08:12 AM
Captive and children in hand Masaru and Michiko briefly investigated the chain-link opening they had seen, finding it to be locked with the same kind of bulky metal lock that had been on the one they had entered through. Reason said that if it was similar to the previous lock then it'd need a rather blocky wooden key that hadn't been provided to them.
Which left searching for another exit or merely leaving from the same direction they had come from. Simple enough to return too and after taking a couple of seconds to get the attention of all the Academy students, they had set off for the entrance they knew off. Luckily nothing seemed to have returned to settle into the path the two genin had chosen for nothing particularly malicious was encountered along the way back. By the time they returned to that first fork that had seperated Keimatsu and themselves, the jounin and his gaggle of charges were rounding the curve. Two of the children he had with him seemed to share the...drained look that Gojo possessed but otherwise seemed fine. Keimatsu himself was awkwardly carrying his opponent over his own shoulder, a lanky dark haired woman who as limp as a noodle.
Just outside of the gate, Rio sat in the shade of a tree in the company of the first child they had rescued, looking all the more anxious for the waiting for his team-mates to return.
12-31-2007, 03:58 PM
"Sensei." Masaru nodded in greeting to the jounin. Seeing the other woman over Keimatsu's shoulder, he turned his own head slightly to make sure his own prisoner was still passed out, then nodded again. The jounin probably had something of the same kind of trouble that his students had encountered. He continued on to the gate in his customary silence.
When they'd finally left the training grounds and met up with Rio once again, Masaru took a rest. He laid his captive on the ground gently, made sure her brindings were secure, and then sat some distance from her. He laid his sword on the ground and folded his legs underneath him in a kind of meditative posture.
01-05-2008, 01:54 PM
((OOC: Sorry about the late posting and all, I've been super-sick recently and my creativity has been pretty much shot.))
The locked exit surprised Michiko, and she tugged at the heavy padlock, frowning. Had the woman proven to be as dangerous as the children made out, Michiko had intended to escape through the chain-link gate, leaving a few explosive surprises for the spider-girl if she gave chase. Though Michiko had managed to defeat Shina, this unforeseen flaw in her plan made her decidedly uncomfortable. She had relied on chance and a near-suicidal attack to win and perhaps luck would not be with her the next time.
Ignoring the knot in her stomach, Michiko quickly joined the gaggle of children, herding them out of the cave with her usual brand of cheeky entertainment. The training grounds seemed different on the way back, now that the tension had faded, and Michiko found herself far more at ease when surrounded by bubbly academy students. She was tired, though, far more than she had been in a long time, and she felt weary after expending so much chakra. Being tossed about like a ragdoll didn't help either, she supposed. Regardless, she enjoyed walk and at the sight of her sensei, she greeted him with her standard cheek.
"Hey Keimatsu, who's that? Don't tell me you found yourself a girlfriend, 'cause she looks a little old for you. 'Sides, women don't take too kindly to being knocked unconscious." She muttered as an afterthought, "I would know."
"Anyway, this is her sister, I think," she continued, jerking her thumb at Masaru's carried burden. "Said her name was Gumoshin... does that ring any bells for you? She set up a little nest down the east passage, complete with a few kids in cocoons for snacks. What's going on here, anyway?"
01-13-2008, 01:10 AM
((OOC: Yeah, I am back. It's end of term here, so I've been doing exams, sorry.))
As his comrades returned, Rio felt a wave of relief, quickly followed by confusion about the two women. Oh no... I left right before there was a fight? Some teammate I am.
Rio climbed to his feet and headed to his comrades. "Hey, guys. Did you, uh, run into some trouble?" he asked, motioning to the women. "Hope I didn't inconvenience you too much by taking off. I guess fighting a giant spider web is just out of my league," he laughed.
As they returned to where Rio had been waiting, and Masaru sat, Rio remained standing, waiting to hear Keimatsu's response to Michiko's questions.
01-14-2008, 01:04 AM
Depositing his captive (http://img169.imageshack.us/img169/5645/ninja1kh1.jpg) on the ground with a loud groan, Keimatsu looks....irate as his gaze sweeps around to the various genin, academy students, and captured ninja. After pausing for a moment to glare at Rio, the jounin sweeps it around to nod at Michiko and Masaru. "I think you should look again, she's a bit young for me Michiko-kohai."
The brief bit of levity hardly seemed to brighten his mood at all, instead looking as if it had been forced out like a mechanical response, but his down to earth tone quickly reverted to the matters at hand. "Gumoshin is a clan name...bunch of people obsessed with spiders from what I've heard, but I've never met one. Why? Was your opponent a real Gumoshin or just bluffing because mine was most certainly not."
Shaking his head like a wet dog coming out of a lake, the pint-sized jounin smiled a bit wearily and shook his head. "We can have the debriefing later today, for now get the children to their homes while I escort our captives to the proper people."
Briefly his gaze passed over Rio again...and when it did Keimatsu's voice dropped an octave and became cold and chilly. "And after that you and I are going to have a long talk about your conduct on a mission. Understood?"
01-14-2008, 01:14 AM
Rio felt his facial expression cool and chill. Awesome, first day.
His expression blank, Rio's eyes were closed when he said, "Yes. Understood." Rio put his headphones on his ears and began listening to an unknown tune. He looked at the youth he'd accompanied out of the training grounds. "Where do you live? Let's get you home." Wordlessly, he began leading his charge away from the others, his usually friendly attitude completely absent.
01-16-2008, 03:32 PM
The masked genin rose from his seat, replacing his sword on his back. "She is Gumoshin." he said in response to Keimatsu's question and left it at that without any further explanation. He crouched briefly by Shina to check her bindings and state of consciousness once again, making sure she was secure, before returning to the crowd of children that had gathered together, animatedly discussing their previous plight. He still wasn't good with children, so when he approached them he made sure to pick out Gojo as the one he knew.
"Gojo, tell your friends it's time for all of you to go home. We'll take you." he said gruffly in that deep, almost monotone voice, like he was ordering the kid around. Still, if one was perceptive enough, you could see that Masaru was feeling rather awkward. He'd feel more comfortable helping to deal with the prisoners than take a bunch of kids home. He didn't know how to interact with them any more than he knew how to talk to kids his own age, as Michiko and Rio could testify.
01-17-2008, 12:02 AM
Michiko shrugged at Keimatsu's comment, though it tickled a curiosity at the back of her mind. So there was a spider clan of ninja, but who and from where? Keimatsu must know more, she figured, though she doubted he would reveal the whole story immediately. Swirling questions gnawed at her, but she stuffed them into a corner of her mind, instead focusing on the moment.
"Dunno; how do you tell a real one from a fake? This one here made nice work of wrapping these kids up like a sushi plate," she said, nodding to Shina's unconscious form. The woman looked better, she thought, though consciousness was probably still hours, maybe days away. Curiosity still nagged at her--who was this woman, and where was she from? Would they interrogate her and what would she reveal.
Instead of pelting her sensei with questions, Michiko concentrated on herding the remaining children together with a cheery smile and letting them lead her towards their respective homes. Along the way, she did her best to raise their spirits with her usual goofball humor. The kids had been through quite a day, and while she wanted to pick every brain that had interacted with the two women, Michiko set her questions aside in favor of making light of the whole day. She would get her answers soon, but for now she was content to play the babysitter.
01-25-2008, 09:11 PM
Keimatsu paused to pick up his own captive once more and as his team lead away the children they could see him picking up Shina before jumping unto a nearby tree and springing away. The kid with whom Rio was escorting followed the Jounin with bright young eyes before turning back to the genin. "Man, is he your sensei? He's just so cool! You should have seen him during the fight!"
It didn't take much time to return the children to their homes but Keimatsu didn't show up either until the sun was dipping low over the horizon. As he seemed prone to do, it didn't take long for Keimatsu to zero in on where his Genin were and merely told them to follow. Surprisingly he did not guide them back to his own home or too where the mission had begun, instead the child-like genin had them meet at a place they had only really passed by. The fortress-like center where the village leaders met and assigned missions to ninja teams.
Once they arrived he leaned against the outside wall beside the door and looked over each of them critically. "Report. Leave out nothing. Not even your own theories or questions." His tone was as solemn as always but he was looked....pale and withdrawn..
01-28-2008, 04:26 PM
After escorting the children to their homes, Michiko felt drained, only now did she notice all the aches and bruises she had accrued during the mission. Haste and determination had dulled the pain and but now the full weight of her exhaustion rested heavily on the girl. Walking became a chore of drudgery and it didn't help that the young academy students were a rowdy bunch, which wasn't all that unusual, but they were especially energetic for kids that had come quite close to being a spider's meal.
That thought and a hundred other nagged at Michiko's mind. Despite her body's reluctance to keep moving, her mind raced along dozens of pathways and possibilities which only ended in more questions. Single-minded resolve kept her feet pumping and she focused on ignoring the various pangs of protest given by her worn-out feet. This was her first real mission, the kind that didn't involve pulling weeds or chasing cats and she intended to succeed, which meant finding answers and soon.
Keitmatsu's arrival had surprised Michiko only slightly, as she was quite throughly entrenched in puzzling out the unknown details of the mission. So focused was her contemplation that when he appeared behind her and tapped her shoulder, she cleared a few vertical feet before coming back down with a red-faced sheepish grin. She followed him with a sort of restrained eagerness, suppressing her swirling thoughts, at least until her teammates had been gathered and she could let her mind gush out the questions she had dammed up.
By the time Masaru and Rio had been collected and the group reached the village center, Michiko had her thoughts finally arranged in some semblance of order and she was both relieved and eager at the opportunity to tell her tale to Keimatsu, and Rio too, considering he had missed a fair amount of the action. She hoped they would be impressed--after all, she had faced another ninja one-on-one and come out the victor, a first for Michiko.
She cleared her throat, and after a pause, began.
"Well, I s'pose the best place to start is the beginning. After you let us into the training ground, we wandered around for quite a bit, trying to avoid most of the hazards and traps. We had been gone quite a bit before I heard someone crying at the other end of this passageway, so of course, we went right in. It probably woulda been easy, 'cept there was this huge spider lurking above us and it had spun a bunch of invisible threads everywhere."
Pausing a moment, her brow furrowed in thought and she snapped her fingers, as if remembering an important detail.
"Come to think of it, that thing was pretty feisty, especially so for being wounded. When I first spotted it, there was a pair of what looked like crescent blades sticking out of its side, which means somebody must have fought it before we did. Anyway, Rio got himself caught in the webs, so I worked on cutting him out and finding the kid while Masaru squashed the spider, so to speak," she explained, grinning at Rio and giving an approving nod to her somber companion.
"We fared alright and the kid was okay, if a little scared, but it would have been pretty dangerous for him to follow us, so Rio opted to take him back." She shrugged uncomfortably, remembering the harsh words Keimatsu had for Rio once he had rendezvoused with them, hastily adding what reasoning she could. "I suppose we shouldn't have split up, but none of us were really comfortable with bringing the kid deeper into the grounds, especially with the dangers we encountered."
She hoped that helped absolve a little of Rio's guilt, and she shot him a quick sympathetic look before continuing on. "After that, we found another one of the Academy kids, except this one was wrapped up in spiderweb like some sorta cocoon. I figured it had to have been the giant spider's work, like it had saved him as a snack for later. When we cut him out, he was real pale--looked like chakra drain to me--and all he did was mutter about the two women--probably the Gumoshin sisters."
"That's when we radioed you, Keimatsu," she explained. "The technique you described, well it wore off and when I asked him about it, the kid claimed he hadn't seen any spider, which means it must have been girls that wrapped him up and sucked out his chakra. It only got stranger from there," she said, exhaling slowly.
"I picked up a trail after that, two pairs of regular tracks--girl-sized ones, I think and then two other pairs that must have belonged to some of the students. That means that the kids were willingly following these girls, rather than being carried or tied up, so I get the feeling that the Gumoshin sisters planned on separating them one by one before pouncing on them. Then again, that means they must have screwed up at one point because at least one got away--the first kid we found was hiding, not covered in webs or chakra drained," she mused.
Anyway, Masaru and I followed the tracks until they split, and we took the trail that lead away from your half of the training ground, which lead to this dark and creepy cavern with another cocoon. Oh, and another spider waiting for us, though this one might have been a bit uglier," she grinned.
"Since Rio was gone and we had the kid to look after, Masaru and I played it careful at first, so he snuck around to cut open the cocoon while I kept the spider-girl busy. Even though we got the drop on her, she probably would had the advantage, what with her disappearing into thin air and all, but I managed to fill the whole cavern with mist to give Masaru some time. Her plan fell apart pretty quick after that because she stumbled around like a blind bull and I stuck her pretty good right on the jaw," Michiko explained excitedly, miming a solid right hook.
"After that, she hit me with some spiderweb technique and whipped me 'round like a rag doll, which hurt like hell, but I dropped an exploding tag on her, which did some real damage, I think. After that, well, she snuck up behind me and used some weird genjustu tech which made me real sleepy--I couldn't land another hit on her, so I dropped another tag right at her feet," she said with a toothy grin.
"I passed out cold right after that, but considering I'm up and she's down, I think I won," she pronounced. "That was pretty much the end of it, I think. Masaru cut the kids out and radioed you again, then we made our way back to the entrance."
With her story finished, Michiko took short, satisfied breath but barely paused before launching into her speculation. I've pretty much figured out how these girls abducted the Academy runts, but what I'm not sure is why, and who they really are. I mean, they must have been from this village for the kids to have willingly followed them, right? If so, are they spies or sleeper agents or just two girls with delusions of grandeur? On top of that, who fought the spider? Someone apparently did enough damage to it to make the thing angry enough to try and eat us, but whoever it was either was in too much of a hurry to kill it or they left it alive for a reason. The spider girls, I could see them keeping the beast as a pet, so I doubt they'd have a reason to attack it, which means there was someone else there besides us," she explained quickly, the words falling out of her mouth.
"Was it you Keimatsu? Or was it someone else...? Am I even close here?"
Holy crap, that's long. Well, he did say to leave nothing out. :smallbiggrin:
01-29-2008, 02:11 AM
The masked genin was in need of some rest himself, but as usual he remained his boring, stoic self. He stayed silent as Michiko related the story of their mission in the training grounds. He agreed with it for the most part, except for a minor detail here and there which he spoke up to address.
"In my opinion, the kids were running from the Gumoshin kunoichi, though we can get the children to verify that. The spider I assume was a longtime inhabitant of the training grounds before I killed it, due to the expansive nest it had made for itself. The ninja may have brought it under their control somehow, but I gathered that its injuries were from some past encounter. Everything else is as Michiko-san has related. Our attacker said her name was Gumoshin Shina. I do not have any evidence to back up that claim besides the spider-like jutsu she displayed during the fight. Using the information I have available to me, I can only draw that these two were working alone, since I cannot recall Gumoshin Shina saying or alluding otherwise. Why they were after the children I also cannot say for sure at this time and I have no wish to speculate." he said dryly, as if reading from a textbook.
01-29-2008, 02:24 AM
Rio sat silently, listening to the account Michiko told. he smiled slightly at her defense of his actions, appreciating the gesture. He was feeling a tad rushed himself, as he had just barely managed to make good use of his free time before being brought here by Keimatsu. Still, he managed to take in all the facts, and made note of the more noticeable events. She beat a ninja one-on-one? Impressive.
After his comrades were finished, Rio cleared his throat before saying "As far as my actions in leaving the mission, yes, they were in error. As Michiko said, we were hesitant to expose the child to more danger. Also, we had no idea of the eventual combat situation. I deemed it a good idea to bring him to safety, and in an identical situation, I likely would do the same. As it is, this does not excuse the fact that I abandoned my teammates in a potentially dangerous situation. I accept responsibility for my actions and any punishment you see fit to deal out Keimatsu-sensei."
01-29-2008, 01:28 PM
With a shake of his head, the kid-sized jounin responded softly. "I fought no spider..I didn't fight any animals during my trek but that was to be expected. The spider probably tripped a trap or, as you said Masaru, got assaulted some time in the past and escaped the encounter alive." Keimatsu paused after this statement and gazed around at the assembled shinobi, eyes flickering to two buildings on opposite sides of the street leading up to the village center before he spoke again.
Listen to this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD-xYbZbfeA) while reading further.
His voice had become cold...sterile almost, the tone one would expect from someone who harbored no emotional depth whatsoever or was desperately trying to hide it. "A well-detailed report, thoroughly described and with...valid theories supported by evidence. Fine deduction work for the information that you gathered during the mission, a mission which can only be described as an utter success. You not only fulfilled the official mission's parameters but also my own directions without so much as a hitch and your all fine ninja."
Again the jounin stopped as if considering what each of you had said. Sunlight continued to falter as he stood there silently. Orange and red light gave way to a shadow that slowly crept up the front of the center and the four ninja who stood before it until all of them were in the shadowy dusk. It was only once the vivid colors of the sunset had passed over Keimatsu's face that a pale and withdrawn look to it, haggard in a way that you have never seen the kid-sized vibrant Jounin look. Finally those sharp sapphire eyes rose to rest on Rio and his voice was soft when he spoke. “Every time you make a decision you should consider how it will affect your team-mates, not just the mission. If something had happened to them because you weren’t there then that knowledge would haunt you for years, if not the rest of your life. You’ll always wonder that if you had been there if you could have made a difference or could have taken one of their places for that fatal blow…but I’m not going to punish you.” Again he stopped and his shoulders slumped with the weight of years he couldn’t possibly have experienced himself. When next he spoke it was as if an old man was calling out through Keimatsu’s mouth.
“I no longer have the authority too.”
At those words people stood up on the roof-tops that Keimatsu had glanced at before responding to the report. Two to the left and one to the right and each wearing the unmistakable white animal masks of the ANBU elite, each of the stoic shinobi crossed their arms over black cowls and peered down at the scene with intensity of vultures waiting for their prey to finally die. Each of the three masks was different, bearing resemblances to different animals in their own abstract way. A lizard, monkey, and dog were all represented by the ANBU on the rooftops.
“As of this point Team Keimatsu has been dissolved. Ihesamo wishes to congratulate you on a job well done and to reward you with an important task for the village to show his gratitude for saving the children. Starting tonight the three of you are going to be assigned on a deep-cover mission to the Land of Fire and assigned a new guardian to guide your way and to teach you, he’s an old friend of mine so there shouldn’t be any trouble between you and him. You’ll receive orders and missions from him which I expect you to complete perfectly. Given the nature of this mission you are not to reveal to anybody that you hail from Kagekure or even imply the presence of this mission. Not even to other Kagekure nin. To…prevent the temptation you are to leave immediately without speaking to anybody or gathering your things…a cover story has been created to explain your absence to family and friends…the ANBU are here to escort all of you outside the boundaries of the village and ensure the secrecy that is required is maintained….You…..you have no choice in this matter, the mission is mandatory.” With those final cracked words Keimatsu fell silent and his eyes dropped to the street below once more. Like the trained professionals that they are, the ANBU hardly make any noise as they leap from the rooftops to land in a crouch behind each of the three genin, looming over them once they rose to their feet and the bone white masks obscured by the shadows of their cowls.
“Keimatsu-sensei…it’s time that you finish your good-byes. Ihesamo was adamant about our orders.” Intoned the grim voice of the monkey-masked ANBU and Keimatsu nodded before approaching his team and holding his hand out to Masaru.
“Yes..I suppose it is. Until we met again Masaru…my friend can handle what the Mibu surgeons do for you…Stay strong and stay viligant in your duties. Remember Masaru…it may hurt opening yourself up to people but it’ll hurt more to have nobody at all.” The Jounin’s grip on the black-garbed Masaru’s hand was tight and resolute, lingering for a moment before he released the genin and stood in front of Rio. “Remember what I said Rio…You have a good head on your shoulders and it could keep your friends alive longer if you put it to use…I know you didn’t leave on purpose but every life is valuable, not just the life of those your hired to protect or guard and especially your squad-mates.” His tone held none of the ice or anger that it had held before but a quiet imploring tone that was odd coming from the usually mysterious and close-lipped Keimatsu but it didn’t keep him from reaching his hand out to shake Rio’s just as respectfully as he had Masaru’s own. Finally he stood in front of Michiko.
A smile ghosted across his face for just a moment before he spoke to her. “Michiko-kohai…I promised your father I’d look after you but it looks like I have to pass that duty unto someone else. Take care of these guys…and yourself…you’ll grow up to be a fine woman Michiko-kohai but you need to make it there first.” There was a pause, for just a moment, before Keimatsu stepped forward and awkwardly pulled the blond genin into a tight hug.
Michiko only You feel the Jounin reach around behind you under the cover of your coat, opening your shuriken pouch and slipping something inside of it before he whispered so softly it was hard to even be sure he had spoken. “Open it once your outside of the village and your positive it’s just you three…not a second sooner.
Finally Keimatsu released Michiko and reached up to brush moisture from his eyes before turning his back on the three of you. Without pause he stepped towards the thick doors of the village center and opened them wide enough to enter and without looking back spoke just once more.
“Good-bye team.” And with a deep ominous boom the doors slammed shut behind him, the last sight of Keimatsu being his bright red hair. And then there was just the three genin and the ANBU who stood behind them, silent and waiting until one spoke for just a moment.
“Come on…let’s get you kids started out there” And then they were corralling the genin towards the East Gate in utter silence, but didn’t make a move to keep their charges from speaking…
01-29-2008, 02:25 PM
Even the stoic Masaru stiffened with surprise when Keimatsu suddenly announced that he would no longer be their jounin, his head turning sharply to the side at the sight of the ANBU on the rooftops. He turned his head back over to Michiko and Rio more slowly. He gauged their reactions while he listened to Keimatsu outline the bare bones of their new mission.
He was sorely in need of additional information. Why was Keimatsu acting as if he'd done something wrong? Was he being removed from their team due to something he'd done? Was he going against the village in some way? Did it have to do with their mission? Was this some sort of conspiracy? Did he need help? Who was this "friend"? Could they trust him? A thousand questions flew through his mind in the blink of an eye, all to stop when Keimatsu approached him to say goodbye. He took the shorter ninja's hand almost hesitantly, but returned Keimatsu's firm grip. His head tilted to the side slightly like a confused dog at his former jounin's words but there was no other outward sign of emotion. He answered with a respectful bow and said, "Yes, sensei."
He watched Keimatsu leave silently, as always. He didn't turn to regard the ANBU nin behind them until after the doors had closed with their resounding boom. Then he calmly looked to the elders, then to the ANBU, and began moving towards the East Gate without a further word. He knew that no one would talk to him about his questions, and he couldn't force an ANBU Elite to give up his secrets. He had to do what he did best and be patient, play along and wait for an opportunity.
01-30-2008, 12:36 AM
Rio listened to everything Keimatsu said. He didn't quite understand everything, but his mind was working on the facts he did know.
Made private checks with DM, using said information.
After the brief goodbye from his sensei, Rio felt a tad relieved that he would not be getting the punishment, he had been so far dreading. But mostly, he felt slight confusion. What was happening? He believed he had an inkling, but he couldn't say anything at the present moment. Instead, he accepted what was happening, and silently continued to process the information being imparted.
After the compliment on his "good head" Rio chuckles a little, "Thank you, sensei. It's been a pleasure working with you."
As he watched the doors close with a loud noise, Rio turned to face the gate. As the ANBU said tey should leave, Rio started walking forward calmly. As he did, he reached up and removed his forehead protector. "We should get these hidden. We don't hail from Kagekure anymore, right?" he said as he put his into his pack. "We're not from here anymore, as far as this mission goes. We should discuss things when were... out of the village," he said, his eyes darting to the ANBU members nearby.
"We should consider what we know, and share our information ASAP."
01-31-2008, 05:44 PM
Keimatsu's cold tone was unsettling to Michiko, and for some time now, she had sensed that something was wrong, but she had not expected this. While she was genuinely bothered by his departure, questions slowly began blossom in the back of her mind and her curiosity impatiently tugged at its restraints, eager to discover the secret. He hadn't told them anything of substance, aside from the fact that he was leaving, and there had to be a reason, a reason she had to know.
Her mind racing, Michiko forced her burgeoning investigative spirit into a small corner of her mind, and she chewed her lip with the effort. Her teammates would have their own speculations, she reasoned, and she very much wanted to learn what Keimatsu had not told them. And the note, the note! She almost grinned when he slipped it into her pouch and she hugged him back very genuinely, if only to hide the glint in her eye.
"Thanks, Keimatsu," she said with a knowing smile. "For everything."
With their goodbyes finished and the group headed towards the gate, Michiko picked up her walking pace. There was much delving to be done, and the sooner the three genin were out of the village, the closer they would be to puzzling out Keimatsu's secret and how it related to their new mission. The note seemed to burn in her pocket, and her fingers twitched with the anticipation of reading it.
01-31-2008, 09:58 PM
Kagekure was as silent as a grave as the three ANBU guided Rio, Masaru, and Michiko through the dark streets of the village. Not a single sound stirred and it was if every step echoed of the buildings and window panes to come booming back to the trio. Only once was there a sign that life stirred with a window shutting abruptly, the darkened occupant quickly rushing away from the opening as the shinobi walked past. The ANBU said nothing as Rio slipped off his headband, not a motion from them, but when he spoke of gathering what they knew the one behind him quickly laid a stern hand on his shoulder and shook his head.
It wasn't the only time either, any time one of the genin tried to talk about what was happening their accompanying ANBU was quick to move to stop it without ever saying a word themselves. Silent as death itself not a word was ever spoken between the elite until they had finally reached the east gate. Cast aside in the shinobi assault on the village little had been done to actually repair or reconstruct the once mighty gates. Sheperding the three just past the perimeter of the wall the ANBU stopped and pointed farther up ahead. At the beginning of the incline that lead out of the valley there were three bundles of backpacks and apparently one of for each of them. Though they didn't follow the genin past the village gates the cowled ninja kept those creepy white masks focused on the genin as they ascended to the packs. From there it'd only be about a half hours walk to completely get out of the valley and be truly 'alone'...
02-02-2008, 02:40 PM
Rio felt the warning hand of the ANBU on his shoulder, confirming one of his more probable theories. One down, he thought.
Paying attention to the atmosphere of the village, specifically the absence of people entirely, he felt he could make another safe assumption out of a theory. Watching the ANBU keep his group in total silence, pieces began to fall in place in Rio's mind. Glancing over at Michiko, and then to Masaru, he couldn't help but feel a slight injustice at the situation. The window shutting by an unknown individual almost seemed like it added to the silence, rather than broke it.
In the corners of his mind, working furiously to process things, the silence of the world around him was nearly deafening. As the finally approached the ruined gate, Rio actually felt relief that once outside they would be free to talk to each other. He was relatively certain that his comrades hadn't figured out what was happening, and felt that he had to explain his thoughts to them, even if he had no concrete proof.
The natural surroundings outside of the village somehow seemed more welcoming and accepting than his home. The silence out here seemed less... oppressive.
As the group approached the packs, Rio hesitated, not moving to pick up his own. As he looked at the ground, seemingly lost in thought, Rio quietly asked his comrades one simple question.
"What do you think is going on here? Because I know."
02-06-2008, 03:17 PM
As the day's light slowly faded beyond the horizon and twilight descended on the village, a slight foreboding feeling tugged at Michiko and the eponymous shadows of Kagegakure seemed to cast a tangible gloom over her. She was elated to leave on a mission outside the village--outside the country!--yet this all felt so very sudden. Keimatsu had been stripped from them without warning and now they were being sent away--far away without little notice and no explanation. Like the creeping shadows, her doubts grew as she walked with her teammates in the grim silence.
When they reached the East Gate, Michiko hesitated as step, turning to look over her shoulder at the ruined village. Something tugged at her, a strange feeling, a distant recollection. Kagegakure had been her home since she was a little girl and now she was leaving, just as she and her mother had left another ten years before. The memories of her old home had faded with time, but she remembered the fear with clarity. Shaking her head, Michiko forced her feet to move again, beyond the gate and onto the darkened path that lay ahead. There was nothing to fear, not this time, and she had more important thoughts at hand.
As they gathered their packs and traveled up and out of the valley, Michiko's restless mind seemed to settle, though the nagging doubts remained. She shoved them down into a corner of her mind, and focused on her speculations of what the note in her belt pouch contained. Her fingers itched at the thought of reading it, and she eventually stuffed her hands into the pockets of her jacket to stifle the urge to tear it open before they were truly alone. Finally, when the three genin reached the edge of the valley, Michiko let out a satisfied breath. Their mission had truly begun, and she was ready. For anything.
To Rio, she held up a finger and reached behind her back, pulling out the folded note that had been riding in her belt pouch. She brandished it with an upwards flick of her eyebrows and unfolded it, a grin tugging at the side of her mouth.
"Let's find out."
02-06-2008, 07:24 PM
True to his nature, Masaru stayed out of any speculation. Sure, he had ideas, but none were verifiable so he would not be sharing any of them. He had endured the departure from Kagekure in a stoic silence as deep as any of the village's perpetual shadows. When they reached the backpacks, he checked his first for anything out of the ordinary, then set about completely unpacking it before efficiently repacking again. He took stock and inventory of every piece of gear before stowing it in order of importance. He made sure to pack items he thought he might need quickly near the top, within easy reach. As he did this he ignored Rio's question, figuring the other genin would speak his mind no matter what Masaru had said in answer. However, when Michiko held up the note he did pause. His head tilted to the side in curiosity, displaying what for Masaru was like rabid interest if his teammates had gotten to know him at all in the past few days.
02-08-2008, 12:34 AM
Masaru's investigation of his pack proved that most of the essentials had been packed in there before hand. There was clothing (Akin to what he had now), a sleeping back, a small bottle with ten pills inside (labeled food pills), twenty shuriken, and another forehead protector. With more then a little curiousness beginning to bud he pulled it out to find a stylized leaf carved into the front of it. Digging around some more he also found another note which seemed to have been attached to it.
"Wear only in emergency!" was all that it proclaimed in bold lettering that was unfamiliar to him. Obviously not Keimatsu's.
On the other hand the note that Michiko unfolded was clearly their jounin's handwriting. Crudely drawn stick figures of the three and all. What was written on it though was easy enough to read..
You must heed my warning. Do not return to the village! If you do then the ANBU have orders to stop you at any cost, including assassination. Much more is going on here then meets the eye but you must trust Ihesamo's judgment in sending you away, he only has the best intentions at heart. My friend is as much a liaison as he is a teacher, he's a shinobi from the Leaf and it's because of him I was able to arrange for your safe travel there. Leaf headbands have been included with your supplies, only use them if approached by younger Leaf ninja. Older ones will be dealt with in other ways.
Listen, the kunoichi you brought in carried heavy news with them. Heavy enough to cause a panic in Kagekure if it got out. They weren't acting alone though and it's their comrades that are the real threats. Find them and you find a bargaining chip you can use. Information suggests they might have a hide out in the capital of our country, the Land of Birds. Theres certainly enough political unrest there to hide missing-nin of their caliber. Do NOT engage, just gather intel.
I packed something else in with your things Michiko...your father left it to me as a gift but it belongs with you. Just put it on and if things are getting hot pour some chakra into it and call out 'Seidai Mizuhogosha'. It'll keep you safer.
When she finally gets around to looking inside of her own pack, it hardly took any trouble at all for her to find what Keimatsu was talking about. Clanking delicately against each other at the very bottom of the other possessions (See whats in Masaru's pack) was an odd set of equipment. Intricately shaped and molded wrist and shin guards with a dainty circlet being used to keep them in roughly the same spot. They looked to be made out some silvery-gold metal that caught the moonlight nicely and glittered as if covered in jewels. Even if the metals weren't worth anything...they were still very beautiful pieces of work.
Happy Birthday present Catch!
02-08-2008, 02:06 AM
Rio nodded as he read the note. "Basically what I knew. We've essentially been banished, to protect the village. Gives you a real warm, fuzzy feeling, doesn't it?" he chuckled. Checking through his pack, he found his own leaf headband, and promptly tossed his Kagekure headband in the pack.
He was not surprised, really, that Keimatsu had given Michiko the information, or the gift. Masaru was obviously effective, and Michiko had taken down her enemy one-on-one. Rio, himself had proved relatively useless in the recent situation, and so was likely to be ignored by his teammate oriented jounin -, no, former jounin. He mulled over all of this as he examined the contents of his pack. As he watched Michiko examining her gift, he placed his equipment inside, being rather careful with his containers of poison.
Leaning back, he observed his teammates, as Michiko tried to determine what her new gift did while Masaru remained as stoic as always. Standing up, he smiled at them. "Stop ogling and let's go. We've got intel to gather. Then a new home to find."
02-09-2008, 06:23 PM
After repacking his bag and removing the Kagekure forehead protector from around his left bicep, he tucked that too away and shouldered everything. "We should move." he said in his usual deep, deadpan voice. He'd digested the information and was now ready to move on to the next objective. If they completed their mission then they could come back to the village. His family may have been gone but Masaru still had a home with the Mibu. Esanu was the closest thing to a father he had and it would be troublesome finding a new place in the world...especially considering his medical needs.
He cinched everything tightly to him and began walking.
02-09-2008, 08:53 PM
After hurriedly reading the note over a third time, Michiko was still confused, pursing her lips in irritation. She had been right in thinking there was more to their departure than Keimatsu had first let on, but this new information simply replaced her original questions with a double handful new ones. They had been banished to protect the village, that she could partially understand, but from what? How could three genin who knew practically nothing jeopardize an entire village? And Konoha, how did that fit into all of this? Keimatsu had sent them off to another country with nothing but a hunch and a rumor to go on.
Crumpling the note irritably in her fist, Michiko stuffed it into her pack rather roughly. She was about to toss the bag of gear over her shoulder when her hand brushed against something hand cool to the touch and she paused, lifting the bundle gently from the bottom of her pack. The silvery metal glinted and glittered, even in the fading light, and she was surprised to notice that it seemed to weigh almost nothing. Knelt down beside her back, cradling this seemingly-ancient armor, Michiko felt strange sense of reverent wonder. These belonged to my father, she thought, tracing a finger along the intricate patterns. And now I've inherited more than just a name.
Standing, Michiko slowly buckled on the legplates and wristguards, feeling her confidence growing as she tightened the straps, as if simply donning her father's armor seemed could wash her doubts away like the wave motif engraved into each piece. Finally, she reached behind her head and untied the Kagegakure symbol that had adorned her forehead for so long and replaced it with the silvery circlet, the delicate metal reflecting bits of light even while obscured by her bangs. Wearing the armor, Michiko felt, no, knew that she could accomplish this mission, whatever it was.
She smiled to her teammates, not one of her usual grins, but a small expression of satisfaction and confidence.
"Come on, then," she said to Rio. "Let's make the most of what daylight we have left."
As they headed east out of the valley, Michiko glanced once over her shoulder, taking one last look at the village fading in the distance. She would be back, she resolved. Home was not something she intended to give up easily.
02-12-2008, 12:14 AM
Art by osy057 (c) osy057.deviantart. com. He asks that anyone who uses his art put this up and I can happily oblige him.
Sunlight didn't last much longer as the trio ascended out of the valley that had become home for them into unknown territory with unknown goals. Despite the relatively tiring trek up and out of the valley, it all seemed to pass far to quickly leaving the question of where to go...and what to do. The road leading down to the village seemed to be the best path to follow by far since it was easy enough to stay on even in the darkness of night that was swiftly approaching.
Aside from that though a camp fire seemed to have been started much farther down the road and Keimatsu's words about his friend being meeting them outside of the boundaries of the village came unbidden to mind. With a quick glance amongst themselves they treaded off towards the bright light in the darkening night. As Masaru, Rio, and Michiko draw closer then can make out the silhouettes of two dome tents pegged up on opposite sides of the cheery little blaze. A carefully set ring of stones was set around the fire to contain it but on first glance there didn't seem to be anyone there. That quickly changed as lanky man (http://fc02.deviantart.com/fs22/f/2008/007/0/7/07b641b45f8171fb.jpg) emerged from one of the tents and approached the fire to sit by it's edge. Even as the three neared they could hear him whistling a jaunty little tune. Short un-kept black hair stuck up in spikes from his head and there was a...kind cast to his face. If it wasn't for the deep horizontal scar underneath his left eye most girls or women would have said he was dreamy. The long black coat that was zippered up against the oncoming cold, with two more at his shoulders, certainly didn't detract from his appeal. As he sat down he pulled the sheathed tanto from the back of his belt and laid it out in front of his open-toed shoes which were by the fire as if to dry. If he noticed the three genin observing his fire then he didn't show it.
02-12-2008, 04:22 AM
When they were within range of the campfire and, apparently, the man they were supposed to meet up with, Masaru stopped and studied the layout. Skeptical and pragmatic as usual, he knew he could not just assume that this man was the one that they were there to meet. Being Masaru, he would never just come out and ask. That was more Michiko's forte. So he did the next best thing. He picked up a rock from the road that fit easily in his palm and chucked it hard at the guy's head. If he dodged it, it set off a trap on the way there, or he swatted it out of the air they'd at least know his capabilities.
Of course, the three genins could also have a lot of apologizing to do shortly...
Wow...who thought I'd have wasted one of my few nat 20's on this freaking roll. XD At least it makes for some comedy. Heh.
Attack: 1d20+6=26 (http://invisiblecastle.com/roller/view/1490310/)
Damage: Uh...I'll leave that up to you.
02-12-2008, 11:14 AM
Masaru's chosen projectile flew straight and true and at the very last second the man looked towards the hurtling stone. Rio and Michiko could only stare in a sort of dread fascination, like being unable to avert your eyes from a cart crash, and all three waited to see what he would do to avoid the missile.
With a loud smack the handsome man's head shot back from the blow until he was staring up at the night sky, lingering there for a long drawn out moment before collapsing backwards unto the ground. It was then that Rio and Michiko started gaping in horror at Masaru as his target began to roll around on the ground.
From the sounds of it he was cursing loudly and fluently in Wind, Fire, Common, and Earth. When he sat back up he was covering his right eye with one hand and gripped the sheath tanto in the other. Glaring right at where the rock had come from he yelled out, voice laced with pain.
"What the hell is the problem with you guys?! Seriously who throws a rock at a complete stranger! What kind of rude upbringing were you three exposed to?! Get over here into the light or I'm gonna throw back and it won't be a rock!"
02-12-2008, 11:24 AM
Rio stood for a moment, jaw agape as he watched the man recoil from the impact. As the cursing and yelling began, he turned towards Masaru, uncomprehending. "Wha-...Ju-... Y-...Cha-... What the hell are you doing? Who do you think we're going to meet outside the village boundaries with two tents other than the person who we were told to meet outside the village? Why would you throw a rock? I mean holy crap!"
So saying, Rio approached the campfire. "Oh, man. Um... Hi?" Rio stopped in the light, looking uncertainly at the man
02-12-2008, 05:15 PM
As the night blanketed the horizon and the day's warmth began to fade, Michiko felt a certain weariness behind her eyes, echoed throughout her body, especially in her tired feet. The day had been long and eventful, but presently, all she cared about was filling her empty stomach. Seeing the campfire in the distance was heartening, as Keimatsu had mentioned that the team would soon meet their new jounin, and Michiko was quite ready for some rest and a meal.
Approaching the crackling fire, she was cautious by instinct, though her hunger and curiosity protested any sort of hesitation. Remaining unseen, she studied the campsite for potential dangers, hoping her stomach would not growl and give her position away. By his appearance, the man by the fire was certainly a shinobi, though Michiko got the feeling that he wasn't particularly dangerous and would probably be amiable to visitors. She had taken approximately two and a half steps from her hiding place when she saw Masaru reach back and throw, and before she could react, the whistling stone clunked the male ninja in the head.
"Damn it, Masaru, I'm supposed to be the impulsive one," she grumbled under her breath.
Clearing her throat, Michiko stepped into the open, rubbing the back of her neck with a sheepish grin.
"Ah, sorry about that... My friend, see, he's an idiot and, well, he's got about as much social grace as a pile of rocks. Um, you okay? Because you're totally free to beat his face in if you want--I'm kind of curious to see what's under that mask, myself."
"Name's Michiko, and that's Rio," she said, first gesturing to her companion and then jerking a thumb at the bushes surrounding the campsite. "Tall, Dark and Awkward, he should be somewhere in there. So, uh, hi. Are you Keimatu's friend? Because that would make this a lot less uncomfortable."
02-13-2008, 09:38 PM
The bushes rustled a bit as Masaru followed his comrades out into the light of the fire. His mirrored eye-lenses reflected the light of the flames, dispassionate and seemingly unapologetic until he bowed low, clasping his hands in front of him. "Forgive me." he said simply, though his tone didn't really support it. He seemed as deadpan as ever. Maybe he'd overestimated the man after all, even if apparently he was the one they were looking for. Clearly their lives were a series of such events. As he remembered it, they'd underestimated Keimatsu-sensei. "I am Ibaraki Masaru."
02-13-2008, 11:24 PM
The man waited patiently as the three came out of the bushes, arms crossed over his chest as he glared at his 'assailants'. He didn't stop either until they had come to a stop just in front of him and they could see the black eye that was swiftly growing from the stone throw. There was no move to accept the apology that had been given to him, he just continued to glare at all three until finally that drilling stare settled in on the blond who had asked him if he was the one they were too meet.
"No, I'm not." He said darkly eyes seeming to almost flare in the ruddy campfire. An oppressive feeling settled over each of the three genin, making it hard to breath or remain standing but it wasn't hard to tell what it was either. The man's chakra was so heavy it actually seemed to be crushing the air out of them just by him being close by. When he spoke it was in a much darker tone, threatening almost. "You come upon a campfire in the middle of the wilderness and instead of just saying hello or approaching you throw rocks at an utter stranger. Without any idea who I was or what I'm capable off you arbitrarily decide to piss me off and to give me a black-eye and any proud shinobi with any degree of honor and power would not take such an insult laying down."
This was insane! His chakra was so intense that Michiko, Masaru, and Rio couldn't help the feeling of fear curling up at the base of their spines as the pressure almost seemed to demand that they cower before him.
"...Hah....I'm just pulling your legs guys. My name is Kaken, Keimatsu didn't exactly tell me much about you guys but from what little I know, and what I've seen, your the guys I've been waiting for." An easy smile replaced the grim and menacing scowl that had been on Kaken's face and he reached up to gingerly feel his swelling eye. Surprisingly that overwhelming feeling of pressure didn't let up until the dark clothed man moved back to the fire and plopped down where he had been before. "Geez...one of you really has an arm on him or her. Come on over and sit down. I want to know a little more about my new charges and a wise man once said theres no better way to know somebody then to hear their thoughts while eating. Sit, join me!....Ow..."
Wincing again he finally left his eye alone and gestured to the various empty spaces around the fire, moving his tanto and sliding it into it's horizontal holster at the small of his back. As if remembering something Kaken's expression brightened as he got up and walked into the tent he had emerged from, ruffling things about before walking back out. A black eye-patch covered his swollen eye and he grinned roguishly. "How's it look?"
02-13-2008, 11:43 PM
Rio Shrugged his shoulders and approached the man, pausing as he once again felt that... disconcerting pressure. The feeling in his spine was awful. He knew that he would be much less effective as long as it was there. Silently, he concentrated on ignoring the feeling, and waited as patiently as possible for it to dissipate.
As he sat, the dancing light of the flames played across the area, casting double shadows in some places, and none in others. Rio looked at this new man, Kaken, was it? He seemed reasonable, considering he hadn't gotten too angry for the rock throw. Still, the pressure he caused was nearly overwhelming. He seems much more powerful than we thought.
Smiling, despite the uncomfortable pressure in his spine, Rio looked at this new companion. "A wise man said that? Maybe we should listen then. Though this should work both ways, right, Kaken? What would you like to know?"
02-13-2008, 11:58 PM
Masaru felt his spine bend under the pressure and he had the strange thought that he'd made the wrong choice in coming out into the firelight. When he felt the weight on his shoulders forcing his knees to bend and the buzzing in his head like an angry hornet at the mere presence of Kaken's chakra he could recognize the emotion he was feeling. It was fear. He didn't give voice to it, letting only a single grunt escape him as he struggled to remain standing. He remembered fear...he'd felt it before. This was a pale shadow of what he remembered, but it was still there enough to recognize.
When Kaken suddenly turned and went back to the fire, Masaru felt the weight suddenly lift and almost tripped over his own feet before regaining his balance. He regained his composure as quickly as ever, pausing for only a moment before following, but he didn't make himself comfortable. Instead, he studied Kaken for flaws, those mirrored lenses of his mask creepy in the way the firelight reflected from them. It seems he'd underestimated someone yet again. He had to be careful or it was going to become a habit. From now on he couldn't base anything on first impressions or it might get them all killed. They were just lucky Kaken turned out to be friendly.
02-16-2008, 04:35 PM
With the black-clad man towering over them, Michiko was more embarrassed by Masaru's abysmal social skills and complete lack of remorse than she was afraid. The boy simply had no function other than hitting things, she reasoned, and it was decidedly frustrating to have a teammate that could be easily replaced with a combat puppet or an attack dog. She sighed, preparing to offer some other form of explanation--maybe Masaru had been dropped as a child?--to hopefully mollify the man somewhat, and then she felt it.
His chakra was incredible! It seemed almost tangible, as if his reservoir could reach out and grip her insides, chilling her to the bone. She swallowed the knot in her throat and licked her lips nervously. Fighting was no option, and he'd surely catch them if they ran, and if only for a moment, Michiko feared her imminent demise. And then it was over, the man chuckling at the terror he had just caused them. The nerve of this guy! she thought, scowling as he laughed. Next time, I'll just stay in the damn bushes at let the idiot clean up his own mess.
Shaking off her momentary irritation, Michiko let a out relieved chuckle, settling down next to the fire at Kaken's invitation. She was far too hungry to be more than miffed, and had no small amount of curiosity as to this man's identity. He had already demonstrated a portion of his power and he was certainly handsome, though she couldn't help but chuckle at the puffy black eye and she snorted with amusement at the eye patch he rummaged from the tent.
"You're a little too far from sea to be a pirate, sensai," she laughed. "Where'd you get that thing anyway? Did you expect to loose an eye when you packed your bag?"
02-16-2008, 05:36 PM
The man laughed as he heard the female genin's comment shaking his head as he briefly returned to his tent to retrieve a cooking pot, water in a cantine, some strips of jerky, and some odd seasoning before taking his place by the fire and beginning to fill the pot.
"Hahahahaha! I suppose the proper answer to maintain my roguish mystique and omnipotent image would be 'A shinobi plans for everything, even errantly thrown stones', but I've never been one for putting off a lie. No, I've come to realize that a disguise kit never goes amiss and people will remember a man with an eye-patch but little else if only seen in a quick glance. Of course I've forgotten to take it off sometimes which rendered wearing it a moot point as well...Here, rip up the jerky." He laughed gleefully before explaining it's purpose and passing the jerky off to the blond. Kaken seemed content to busy himself with putting the rice unto to cook instead of simply answering Rio's question but once the dinner was all squared away he reclined back and looked to the other genin.
"You'd think they'd mention the host's duties in that little proverb but they don't, funny huh? Well...what do you do? Obviously your shinobi and I'm guessing one of you is strong from the bruise you gave me but thats about all I was told. What's going on in Kagekure? It's been awhile since I've visited. Really the list of questions I could ask is practically endless but if you want to answer them all by all means go ahead and try. You can start with 'What's the meaning of life?' and 'What happens when we die?'" Kaken grinned wolfishly as he finally answered Rio, stirring in the odd seasoning as the rice finally began to cook and adding in the ripped up jerky as well. Soon the rice had turned an angry red color but the scent coming off of it was absolutely mouth-watering.
As if remembering something the man twisted to look at Masaru and raised an eyebrow. "I hope you don't plan on being this quiet the entire time we know each other. It'll be so very dull for the both of us if I'm forced to make up my own stories for why your so quiet and to fill the void of your silence. So speak up boy, your the one who threw the stone so the least you can do is humor me. Tell me about yourself...and the reason you pegged me wouldn't go amiss either."
vBulletin®, Copyright ©2000-2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.