A Fork (Tongue) In The Road [Contract Search]


New Member
Jan 7, 2020

The afternoon sun beat down on the vast desert expanse with an intensity that caused a shimmering heat haze across the entire horizon. The shifting effect on the dunes was almost hypnotic, as though the landscape moved like an ocean, despite remaining quite still. The temperature remained oppressive, even this late in the day, and it was all most travelers could do to seek cover and shade, to find some semblance of respite. It was said that those who willingly traveled the expanse were likely mad, but those that did so unprepared were dead. Throughout many years there had been roving bands of varying inclination that had found means to successfully traverse the desert, suffering damages minimally in the process; merchants, bandits, shinobi tracking parties, they had developed methods to account for the dangers involved and had shared tips with others.

One rule was shelter before food or water.

A gust of hot wind sent a small dust devil across the sand, kicking up a trail in its wake. Before it had begun, it died down, leaving the calm shimmering desert as it had been. Not far from where the swirling wind ended, a series of sand mounds could be seen. They were in a square layout, clearly man-made, around seven feet in diameter. Between the mounds was a tan canvas that was stretched taunt, held above the ground by the mounds serving as weights to keep it in place. One side had a hole beneath the canvas, large enough for a human-sized thing to crawl into and remain flat on the stomach. It was a basic sand shelter, which used the air flow and canvas to keep the majority of the heat around away from the individual resting beneath the surface.

Daijamitsu rested inside the trench with eyes half-closed, satisfied with the cooler sand be used to lay on, with his stomach face down. Compared to the surface heat above, his small shelter offered almost half the temperature. While the simple construction was exactly that, simple, it remained that sometimes those types of solutions were best. Sure, the Genin could have used some jutsu to make something more comfortable, perhaps a tunnel entrance to a subterranean room, or even an earthen house. But there didn't seem a need for Daijamitsu, as he was perfectly fine with conserving his chakra and energy, not quite knowing what to expect from his expedition into the desert. Needless wasting of resources, especially while alone and literally in the middle of nowhere, would just lead to a quick demise... which the youth wanted to avoid. Drastically.

With the time available while resting away from the desert sun, Daijamitsu had thought back to lessons he had been taught. One in particular had brought him to his current situation, having learned the theory work behind searching for a contract. The Genin didn't know how it worked, exactly, but he had discovered enough information from various sources to piece together enough of an understanding to undertake the mission. Part of the boy wanted to trust in the process, as other shinobi had done exactly what he was doing to great success; but the other part couldn't shake the thought that he was, literally, wandering through the desert hoping for the best.

How long did Daijamitsu need to search? Was something meant to be guiding him? Did it come down to simple luck? Easy questions without easy answers.

Despite it all, the Genin didn't mind the expedition. He had a fondness for heat, actually preferring it to the cold, his pale skin seeming to absorb warmth very well. Even so, the desert heat currently was ridiculous. Another benefit to the journey was solitude, allowing Daijamitsu time to be with his own thoughts, to think about things freely without feeling others could tell what he thought and simply enjoying being away from his peers. While Daijamitsu didn't have any particular issue with the other Genin he was familiar with, there was still an underlying rivalry felt, a sense of constant competition to outdo the other, and sometimes taking a step back from seniority observation was a good thing. Truth be told, Daijamitsu had grand plans, he wanted to ascend the ladder of power, to reach lofty heights where friends would cheer and enemies tremble. Still, there were some shinobi seemed poised to do that at incredible pace, boasting powerful bloodlines and abilities beyond Daijamitsu's capabilities. It was these individuals that Daijamitsu disliked the most, really, feeling as though they had been offered a leg up on the proverbial climb to gaining status, strength and skill.

The Senju, the Yuki, the Aikayume and others; they all possessed traits simply because of their birth. And here Daijamitsu was, a lowly orphan-turned-Genin that had no claim to any such ancient or powerful bloodlines, and instead just seemed to have a fondness for snakes. Still, even the youth couldn't deny something was happening to him, ever since he had been bitten some years ago by a desert snake in the tunnels below Sunagakure. Compared to most, Daijamitsu's physical development had started taking an odd turn, as evidenced by his slit-pupil yellow eyes, his pale white skin and his incredible flexibility. No one had any real answers, unfortunately, at least nothing concrete that defined the boy's growth exactly.

Perhaps Daijamitsu did have some kind of bloodline? Did that possibility change his opinion of those who definitely did? Was he one of them if it turned out to be true?

"Heh," Daijamitsu spat, as he rolled over onto his back, looking up at the canvas a foot or so overhead. "It doesn't matter either way. Keep climbing, keep getting stronger, strong enough to kill them all..."

Slavers, that was. Daijamitsu had long since vowed to destroy the slave traders who operated in the county of Wind. Their kind had killed his parents, which Daijamitsu also felt guilt over, having been taken hostage and been the catalyst of his parent's deaths. If only Daijamitsu had been trained, had been older, had been able to do something - anything - to help... but he hadn't, he couldn't, and now he didn't have a family. On the surface, Daijamitsu liked to think his personal crusade against kidnappers and slavers was righteous; but deep down the boy knew the darker truth, the truth he kept hidden from everyone: he wanted to have revenge, to rip them apart and leave them all a bloody mess on the floor, just like they had his parents. Little more than violent, crimson memories.

And if Daijamitsu happened to enjoy doing it at the same time? So what.

The all-too-familiar daydream returned, as Daijamitsu pictured an older him, a stronger him, tearing through a slavers camp. Handseals flashed, jutsu thundered down, ninja weapons sliced the air and carnage ruled the scene. Over the years some of the bandits had been developed in the boy's mind, some had names, others particular features like scars or flashy jackets. Things that were probably all made up from Daijamitsu's own imagination, save for one individual - the scum that had held the dagger to Daijamitsu's throat personally, who had ordered the attack on the boy's parents.

"Spiked black hair, damaged left earlobe, jagged scar along his right forearm and a missing ring finger," Daijamitsu mumbled to himself, as he recalled vivid details about the slave leader. Even the man's smell felt fresh to the boy's mind. "They called him Tensen. He'll die by my hand."

By the time Daijamitsu had allowed his daydream to run its course, overcoming the camp and defeating all that stood in his way, the sun had receded behind the surrounding dunes. The far cooler evening air began to permeate the desert and the Genin knew it was time to continue on his way. He slid out of the shelter with ease, his body contorting as he stood and then stretched. There was still some heat from the day, but it was a lot less. Daijamitsu kicked the sand mounds away, freeing the canvas, before he shook it out and rolled it up. The item went back onto the bag top that had been in the trench, simple rope holding it in place on the pack. It took very little time to break the shelter down and before the stars started appearing overhead, Daijamitsu was ready to continue his trek.

"Which way?" Daijamitsu wondered, ignoring the fact he had been talking to himself for most of his journey. "Logic says toward the rock formations..."

Adjusting the bag strap over his shoulder, the young boy began walking along the dune tops. He kept a steady pace, not wanting to risk a sinkhole or stumbling across any number of desert dwellers. No, Daijamitsu's goal was to find a willing creature, one intelligent and willing enough to form a pact with a shinobi, to work alongside one another and achieve great things!

And if it happens to be a snake... well, all the better.

Daijamitsu stared out over the darkening sand, taking in the blues, purples and reds. The desert always looked pretty at night. Still, there was always danger, and one of the biggest was dehydration. The Genin took out a water bottle, allowing several gulps of water, before he returned it to the bag. If Daijamitsu wanted to make it to the rock formations before daylight, he had to keep going. It was now or never, fate would decide he supposed...

[ WC: 1565 | MFT ]