Private Boar & More! [Mission - Kazu & Daijamitsu]

Kaen

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It was just before noon, the incandescent sun already bright and hot over Sungakure. The air was heavy-laden with succulent aromas drifting out of the various restaurants and marketplaces preparing for the lunch rush. Kaen, however, was well prepared already and had been awaiting the arrival of his genin squad. In truth he was not all that eager and rearing to go in regards to the mission as a whole, but the prospect of a few individuals in the squad is what beat him into submission. The non-natural born Sunan had already let his hair grow out after having cut it down to look professional for Lord Nobu and Lord Sousuke. If the need arose he may do it again, but he wasn't in the habit of catering to the wants of others if there was no legitimate reason to do so.

Just outside the village gates Kaen was stationed, positioned comfortably with his back against the outer wall and a single foot propped up against the wall as well. Gazing out across the vast expanse of golden grains which formed the sea of sand surrounding the entire village, Kaen let his mind wander towards the past. Recent news with Kasen was still troubling him, the thought of losing her again was stressful to say the least. Albeit in a completely different sense than the last time, it was still incredibly vexing. And that was saying something, because Kaen was not easily cornered into a state of anxiety or fear. Flashes of their lives together blurred together as his mind tried to focus on the image of her. He was going to drive himself mad if he kept this up.

Thankfully it appeared that the first of his squad had arrived to pull him from the clutches of his own mind. The first noticeable, and confusing, trait anyone would have cued in on was his odd attire. Despite the arid, nearly inhospitable place they lived in Kaen seemed to nearly always be wearing a heavy fur lined coat. And yet despite this oddity, Kaen was perfectly comfortable and showed no signs of being overheated to any degree. Secondly, after his meeting with Lord Sousuke he had been allowing bits of his aura to manifest and become more noticeable. As such they would notice the air around him was remarkably warmer. The reason behind it would remain a mystery for these individuals for a time, only the select few were privileged which such sensitive information. Although, those with keen senses, strongly attuned to chakra natures would see a faint hue of red exuding from every inch of Kaen's body. He did his best to not overwhelm people with this trait, at least not intentionally.

[OOC Mission started/entered]
 
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Daijamitsu

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A small boy dressed in earth-colored robes walked through the hustle and bustle of the noon civilian traffic. Not one to be late, the Genin had risen early, had prepared and eaten, and planned on arriving just as instructed. The walk to the gates of Sunagakure was relatively easy, little in the way causing obstruction beyond moments of groups causing congestion, and the small boy soon had his destination within eyesight. There was cause for some cheer today, as it seemed the Genin had been placed onto a team of sorts, where he would join another young shinobi and be led by a skilled one. Finally, beyond accepting missions pursuing lost cats or assisting elderly folk find things, he would begin completing important tasks.

And the opportunity to observe a higher ranked shinobi is worth it, itself.

As he stepped around a couple arguing, Daijamitsu saw a lone individual propped against the wall ahead. The Genin approached, his long black hair unmoving and straight, his bright yellow eyes assessing and his gait incredibly smooth. It was almost like he was gliding, despite clearly making strides on short legs. One of the first things Daijamitsu noticed about who-he-assumed-was-his-new-sensei was the man's thick fur lined coat. Despite the steadily increasing heat of the desert around, the shinobi didn't seem concerned at all, rather comfortable in fact.

Interesting.

Daijamitsu approached quietly, his head lowered somewhat. The Genin stopped in front of the taller man in the coat, as his eyes peered up from between strands of hair, catching the other's face. Perhaps mistaken, it seemed a low heat radiated from the guy. Still, not wanting to be rude or stare, Daijamitsu nodded his head in a small bow and spoke...

"Hello, I am Daijamitsu," The Genin said in a flat tone, expression solemn. "I am looking for Kaen-sensei... are you Kaen-sensei? I have been assigned to the squad."

Despite asking the question, Daijamitsu was certain he had found the right individual, it never hurt to confirm.

[ WC: 328 ]
 
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Kaen

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Dismissing the previously troubling thoughts from his head Kaen would look upon the face of the first member to arrive. Raising a single brow, his interest was peaked further as he measured the material before him. Yes, material. Not unlike soft clay, this individual was still malleable and ready to take their full potential and mold it into greatness. The color of his skin led him to believe he was a non-Sunan born, like himself. Not that where you were born made a difference, but information was a valuable asset in itself.

Pushing himself away from the wall he would address the young shinobi who called himself Daijamitsu. "I am he. We will wait for the second and last to arrive before we set out to complete the mission. But first..." Kaen would circle the boy, investigating and thinking internally as he did so. Coming to a stop as he made a full circle around him he would press the genin for more information. "I've read your file, and I have to wonder how somebody was able to pass with such ease and haste." This is what interested Kaen most, for now, about Daijamitsu. It was rare to discover a prodigy, let alone happen across them first. He wondered just what the kid's potential really was. Perhaps it was just a fluke and they would soon flounder under real pressure. But there was a chance that he would leave his mark in the shinobi world, and perhaps even upon Kaen.

"More importantly, though, I need to know more about you that isn't just your grade point average. None of that education is any good if the skills are not developed unless you are looking to be an Oracle in the making. So,what makes you You? Tell me, Daijamitsu, what do you consider your strengths to be? Weaknesses even. Additionally, what is your area of proficiency?" By proficiency he meant his skills as a ninja. Kaen for example was most proficient with ninjutsu, fire was his signature element. Taijutsu, bladed weapons specifically, was also an area he felt himself skilled with. While capable of using genjutsu, it was not something he did often or was well versed in. These sort of things were important for him to know so he would know just how to utilize his sqaud to the best of their ability. There was no sense in sending a medic into the front lines. Everyone served a purpose, everybody had their pros and cons.
 
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Daijamitsu

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Daijamitsu was glad he had approached the correct individual, though considering there weren't many people waiting near the gates made the chances better. The Genin's thoughts came back to the situation, as Kaen began to speak, circling Daijamitsu like a predator taking stock of potential prey, sizing up and determining what the other was. It wasn't uncommon for Daijamitsu. He had found a lot of the shinobi world revolved around judging others and forming estimates and precautions. Either way, the Genin didn't take it personally, and assumed it was a tactic by the older shinobi to see how the boy reacted.

So, Daijamitsu offered a wide smile. Over-wide, really, his lips contorting unnaturally.

"I have been told I am a genius by some instructors," Daijamitsu said to the question about his academy time. "But I think not having family or distractions is the real reason... I cannot say, Kaen-sensei."

When the mention of capabilities was raised, Daijamitsu nodded. He understood why. It made sense for someone who was about to lead him to take stock of his abilities, so should battle occur, appropriate use could be made of Daijamitsu and his skills. Insight for such a young age was part of the boy's characteristics, as well as maturity beyond his years, which all could lead to his being considered a genius within his generation. Still, only being eleven also brought some experience shortcomings and every so often Daijamitsu wasn't sure how to express thoughts or feelings... so it wasn't all great, really.

Often I can feel frustrated when I cannot connect the dots.

"I am skilled in Taijutsu and Genjutsu," Daijamitsu said, his smiling remaining, as his yellow eyes closed with the expression. He was capable in most aspects of shinobi skills, but even the Genin knew he had a slight lack in Ninjutsu. "Those two are my focus, if I had any, Kaen-sensei. I am able to use Ninjutsu, but struggle with elemental use, from what I am told." Daijamitsu lifted up his right arm and presented a small, equally pale-skinned hand, as the large sleeve slipped back... it revealed a coiled snake wrapped around the skinny arm. "This is my main weapon, my snake companion, but I also prefer piercing weaponry. She is able to bite most things so far, even some armors, and offers excellent reach when she lashes out to strike..."

As if on cue, the snake launched toward Kaen, mouth open but not attacking. The jaws snapped, the snake regarded the other shinobi, before it coiled back and resumed its place on Daijamitsu's arm.

"She is feisty... I apologize," Daijamitsu said, though his smile never wavered. "My weaknesses are elemental Ninjutsu and my lack of experience. I am also young for a Genin, which means I am not as physically developed or strong as my peers. Hopefully these are momentary and I can overcome them to remove those weaknesses.

"What do you focus on, Kaen-sensei? Do you have combat strengths and weaknesses?"


[ MFT: 480 ]
 
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Kazu

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Kazu was late.

The young boy didn’t enjoy being late, and usually made a strict effort to arrive earlier than needed, but it seemed these last few weeks he’d hit something of a timing rut. He didn’t know what it was — his life in Sunagakure seemed to revolve mostly around his personal training regiment, his shinobi missions and tasks, and more recently a series of chance encounters with various different persons who seemed to embody the spirit of the village. Perhaps he simply was over working himself? The young boy did have a thirst to do more, to train harder, and to be involved with as much as possible. Maybe he was stretching himself out too thinly? ’Or maybe I’m just not working hard enough?’

That thought lingered with the boy as he hurried towards the meeting point for the mission, just outside of the Sunan gates. Dressed in a simple black workout shirt, a pair of baggy mauve-green capri pants that ended in a corded end just underneath his knees, some easily removable shinobi sandals, a belt pouch around his waist for shinobi supplies, a small water pouch that bulged with its contents, and carrying a tan brown cloak to protect him from the sun while they were out on their mission, Kazu looked the part of a young boy who’d roamed these deserts all of his life. And yet the way he stared with fascination, sniffed at the different aromas that wafted through the air, and awkwardly passed through the crowd in a sub-optimal way, seemed to indicate he was not, yet, completely familiar with the busy pace of life in Sunagakure. As the boy wandered here and there, his blood-red eyes scanned the crowds for the man in charge of their mission; a man he’d already met, fought beside, and even previously partied with. Shinku Kaen.

As soon as he spots the red haired man, along with a smaller boy sporting long black hair, Kazu knew he was late. Embarressed, but trying not to show it, Kazu approaches the two of them casually with a relaxed smile on his face. ”Yo,” he says, all too casually, while raising his right hand up in greetings, ”sorry I’m late, Kaen-sensei…I guess I lost track of time this morning during my training. My apologies, I’ll try not to let it happen again.” He let the raised hand fall behind his head, scratching at the back of his charcoal black hair, as he closed his eyes while smiling — Kazu was kind of nervous, knowing he shouldn’t have been this late, but was really trying to play it cool instead. When he opened them he glanced over each of the two, Kaen and the other Genin who’d been assigned to this squad, and took them both in. A pair of birthmarks, dark markings just underneath his eyes, made the red of his irises pop out and gave off a sense of intense focus. And yet his smile exuded an air of total relaxation, diametrically unlike his eyes. It was a weird combination.

”So, you must be the other Genin assigned to our squad!” Kazu speaks directly at the younger kid, who seems his junior by perhaps a year or more. ”It’s nice to meet you! The name’s Kazu, and I’m looking forward to working with you!” The young boy begins to extend his hand towards the other boy’s in greeting, not seeing the snake on the other boy’s hand. Right as he’s about to get too close, however, Kazu notices and pulls his hand back rather quickly as his eyes widen by a significant margin. ”Uhm...do you know you have a snake on your arm? It...seems rather well behaved, but...well...I hope it’s not poisonous...”

[WC: 624]
[Total WC: 624 / 4,000]
 
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Kaen

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There may have been something to that, in regards to no family or distractions. In truth Kaen shared similar aspects to this fact as he too was able to focus his energy towards greatness due to having no distractions. Kasen being the exception of course, in fact that was the reason that fueled his desire to climb ever higher, never ceasing in his efforts. Kaen would nod along as he listened on.

The eerie smile was slightly unsettling, more so considering it was coming from an eleven year old. Kaen wondered exactly where this kid was brought up, and how. It somehow reminded him of the same feeling he got from looking at Akkuma. An ere mystery and confidence was very evident in his mannerisms. In fact it almost seemed too familiar, especially once he mentioned a specialty in both taijutsu and genjutsu. It was as if Akkuma had managed to fuse his psyche with Kanmuri's physique. No... Kanmuri and Riyota killed him. He quickly pushed that notion aside, for now. There was not enough evidence to support this wild idea.

Suddenly a small, coiled snake lunged out from under the boy's sleeve stopping just short of his face. Blinking in relative surprise he would clear his throat as he feigned composure. He had not expected, or even suspected that any creatures were lurking inside Daijamitsu's clothing. "Ahem... Impressive. I look forward to seeing how you utilize your companion to accomplish our goals today." Not that he was afraid of snakes, but why the hell is this kid walking around with a creature like that up his sleeve?! Furthermore, to have been able to train a snake to be one with his own body for means of attacking, perhaps his instructors were correct in their assessment of Daijamitsu. Truly this boy was proving himself to worthy of the title "Genius", so far...

Kaen took note of his areas of expertise and his lesser traits. Having trained Kanmuri, for the most part, Kaen had no doubt he could do it relatively the same way with ease. That is of course if he was even looking for a new mentor. With Kanmuri and Teke well above the need for such training Kaen was already looking for new minds to help shape and grow. Once again the boy would surprise him by making an inquiry himself. Usually they simply responded when addressed and never seemed to care what he himself could do. Inquisitive, intellectual and a snake charmer to boot, already Kaen was liking him. "My focus? I suppose you could say I'm well versed in the ways of fire and the like. As for my other strengths and weakn--"

Kaen cut himself off mid-sentence as a distinctive ”Yo” was uttered, signaling the arrival of none other than Kazu, the brave. Upon seeing the familiar face Kaen's demeanor would switch from serious to something more approachable. With a raised hand, and a smile, Kaen would respond in kind. "Yo!" Having already seen Kazu in action with their brief meeting inside his armor, and the long night both of them endured together on the battlefield, he knew what he was about for the most part. "You're not that late, don't sweat it." Honestly Kaen would have normally been a little agitated about it, but Kazu had earned a little respect from Kaen. Proving himself capable alongside full fledged shinobi during the assault of Suna's walls was no easy feat for someone so young. This was something that would always garner respect from him. "I was just getting to know a little more about your sqaud member, you should introduce yourselves."

His explanation of his personal pros and cons would have to wait momentarily. For now he would let the two get acquainted as he watched onward to the interactions of the future generation of warriors. In time it would be kids like these defending the walls and their own Dominus'. Once the introductions and small talk had been wrapped up he would address the mission on hand. Or rather let them tell him. He wondered if they had simply responded to a call, or if they took the initiative and actually read the mission outline. "So, who can tell me what our mission is today? Bonus points if you can tell me more in-depth about the target(s) in question." This wasn't a test or pop quiz of any sort. But being in the position he had found himself in these days, his word might very well carry some weight in the decisions holding these two's futures, such as promotions or specialized missions.


[MFT]
 
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Daijamitsu

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Daijamitsu nodded, as Kaen mentioned using his snake for the mission to come, feeling that the potential for paralytic effects could be worthwhile. So far the older shinobi seemed a good mentor, one who engaged simply and easily, but also seemed to have deep thoughts. Despite being a lowly Genin, Daijamitsu could see the wheels turning in Kaen's head, as things were observed and measured. It wasn't unreasonable to assume a newly appointed team leader would do that, at any rate, but Daijamitsu liked that Kaen was showing interest.

I hope this isn't a short-term grouping, Daijamitsu thought to himself. I cannot say for sure, but getting my information so detailed seems positive... if he did not care for future opportunities, he would not bother, I guess.

Right around the time Kaen was beginning to explain his capabilities, of which Daijamitsu was truly interested, the second member of the team arrived and paused the explanation. Unfortunately it seemed the leader of the team would not reveal details, as the shift in conversation changed the topic for the moment. Daijamitsu wanted to know the measure of his new sensei, just as Kaen wanted to know the Genin's. Mutual knowledge. And following a brief series of apologies and small talk, Kazu looked toward the smaller Genin with the pale skin and yellow eyes.

"Hello, Kazu," Daijamitsu said as he turned his attention to his newly acquired Genin companion. "Yes, I am the other squad member. I look forward to working with you on future missio--"

Kazu suddenly pulled back from the handshake, as Daijamitsu reached out. The reason was obvious, as the scaly head of the snake within Daijamitsu's sleeve peered out. With a wry smile, Daijamitsu coerced the snake back into the sleeve, as the creature disappeared with a flick of the tongue.

"Oh, yes, I have a snake up my sleeve," Daijamitsu started, his yellow eyes catching the other's red ones. They were interesting. Different, like his. "Sorry. Sometimes I forget it is not common. It is okay though, she will not attack unless defending me or I want her to. Though she is very venomous, yes."

It was mildly uncomfortable to be talking this much, as Daijamitsu typically kept to himself. But, having grown up in an orphanage meant a constant need for social interaction with numerous other orphans at any given time. So while the pale Genin could maintain a conversation, it didn't mean he was fully comfortable. Still, so far, both Kaen and Kazu seemed like reasonable shinobi who were projecting optimistic and pleasant personas. Whether these were their real masks remained to be seen, of course.

"I can answer some of that, Kaen-sensei," Daijamitsu said with a glance to Kazu. The pale Genin didn't want to be seen as a suck up, but there was no downside to greater understanding of a mission and its requirements. "We are tasked with capturing Sunan Dustboars for a client. They are thick-skinned and travel in packs of up to a dozen. The information I read in the library this morning indicated they are docile until threatened, and advised seeking height if confronted to avoid their tusks."

The Genin blinked, feeling as though he had gone overboard, and hunched. The last thing he wanted to do was show up Kazu, after all, as they had just met and been assigned to the same squad. In truth, Daijamitsu knew more about the dustboars, but he wanted to give his new companion a chance to answer some of the mission information - assuming he could or wanted to...

They have clawed hooves, and roam in the Badlands, usually. They burrow and scavenge and can go without water for long periods of time... they also possess highly coveted meat.

Daijamitsu looked at Kazu. Would he expand on the answer?

[ WC: 622 ]
 
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Kazu

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Blinking, once or twice, Kazu regards the pale-skinned, yellow-eyed, Genin before him with a look of incredulity, concern, wariness, and a touch of amusement as his teammate explains how the snake up his sleeve was — mostly — harmless. And venomous, too. Matching that wry smile with his own facetious one, Kazu re-extended his hand to finish what they’d started. ”Is that so, huh? Remind me not to get on your bad side then...uh...” Kazu blinked once more, realizing something all of a sudden. ”...sorry, what did you say your name was?”

’This guy is pretty interesting,’ thought Kazu as they, hopefully, got around to properly shaking hands. The young Ryuzaki was anticipating a fun, and exciting, mission with this motley crew. ’It’s nice to get to work with someone else about my age, too. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to chat while we’re heading out into the Badlands!’ Kazu knew what they were tasked with, and relished the thought of getting to roam the deserts for a bit. It had been a while since he’d had the chance, what with the Unbent swarms running amok, and getting that taste of open freedom was a tantalizing prospect for the country-raised boy. It was why he’d prepared his traveling coat, some water, and even a bit of food rations in his belt pouch — just in case.

When Kaen asked about their mission today, the other Genin (who he’d learned was named Daijamitsu) was more than willing to share what he knew. Kazu caught the sideways glance that the boy gave him and returned the look with a nonchalant shrug that seemed to say ”By all means.” Besides, it gave Kazu an opportunity to learn what the other boy knew. "We are tasked with capturing Sunan Dustboars for a client. They are thick-skinned and travel in packs of up to a dozen. The information I read in the library this morning indicated they are docile until threatened, and advised seeking height if confronted to avoid their tusks."

Kazu smiled as the boy gave his answer. ’He’s a bright one, alright.’ Kazu was very familiar with many of the desert’s critters and beasties, having hunted a number of them already with his father and older brother. He grew up right outside of Sora, not far from Soon’s Haven; hunting and cooking your first Dustboar was basically a rite of passage for the Ryuzaki. Kazu had lots of hands on and technical knowledge of hunting these scrumptious little piglets — more than enough knowledge to know that his teammate had held back some. ’If he read enough to know about seeking the high ground, he’s definitely read the rest of their encyclopedia entry.’ Kazu respected his teammate’s willingness to share in the answering, and began his answer for Kaen once Daijamitsu was finished.

”We gon’ hunt us some piggies!” Kazu’s smile had taken on a devilish quality as he rubbed his hands together and licked his lips, hungrily. There was a glint of fire in his eyes, as if he could already see the critter spinning on a roasting spit. ”Their meat is nice and juicy, oh so succulent, and it goes great with a spicy sauce made from Pink Thimble-Berries...” The young boy had to take a moment to wipe off a little globule of drool forming by the corner of his mouth before continuing. ”As far as hunting them goes, they usually like to scavenge the desert for food using their tusks and clawed hooves; but, because they can go for weeks without water, they could be pretty much anywhere between here and Soon’s Haven. They’re herbivorous, though, so sometimes you can catch a pack of them close to the coast where there’s some light foliage.”

With that, Kazu would sneak a passing glance towards Daijamitsu and smile. He knew the boy knew these things, too, but had let Kazu get a chance to speak as well. The young warrior would repay that favor, for sure, but a little gratitude was never remiss. Looking towards their mission leader, next, Kazu waited to see what Kaen would do or say.

[WC: 684]
[Total WC: 1308 / 4000]
 
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Kaen

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Once more this pair of young Sunan shinobi fledglings impressed Kaen. Their knowledge quite surpassed some of those of chuunin level. Granted this was just information about a wild animal, these two seemed to have a repeating theme about themselves that Kaen appreciated. Had he been of the type that was gung-ho and high-spirited he might very well have started tearing up and spouting some nonsense about the power of youth. But he was not, nor did he possess eyebrows to hold such levels of energy in this sort of fashion.

"Well put, both of you. I'm glad you've both taken such initiative in the mission. Many others would depend on the strength and knowledge of others to get by, that is not my shinobi way." Resisting the urge to be dismal and go on about how the harsh reality of the world was that many would abuse their trust in them and most likely would let them down at one point or another. But that was a very negative thing to say and this was not the type of thinking that needed to be fostered in genin. While he might not have cared about it years ago, years now spent working together with various people here have helped him learn and grow from previously ill mannered thinking. With his new title of Lord he thought it better to try and inspire the future shinobi rather than to crush their outlook on life, at least right away. Sooner or later they would learn the truth, or Kaen would have a better conversation when they were older had they not figured it out themselves. While there were a great many of people here that they possibly could put their full trust in, it was far better to lean on your own capabilities than to rely solely on others to survive.

"There is, however, a slight change in the parameters of today's goal." Another layer of understanding and skill required of fully realized shinobi would be the ability to adapt and improvise. There would always be times where aspects to certain things in missions, and lives, that would demand new ways of thinking to accomplish goals. "The individual who provided this mission for us has requested that we capture the dustboars alive instead of simply slaying them. It would seem that the date to his..." Pausing a moment Kaen would compose himself. The thought of using ninja to accomplish such a menial task for the sake of some rich person's stupid, fancy party disgusted him. What a waste of their skill and time. But a mission was a mission, and orders were orders. "...party has been pushed back and it's too much trouble for them re-commission our services. And so he wants them alive so they can be butchered the day of the new date."

It would have been much easier for them to simply kill the beasts and be done with it, but he too would have to accept this change in plans. While not completely ungrateful for the extra level of difficulty this would present for these two genin, it was still ridiculous as a whole. "A word of caution," His face quickly turned to a deathly serious visage, his red eyes attempting to pierce the minds of the two before him. "There is a chance we may encounter Unbent out there, another reason I'm here. While the night was won, the threat has not been sighted as of late, the danger is still very real and I'm not the type to be ok with you two dying on my watch." Some may have found this strange or odd for Kaen to make such a statement, but many do not know Kaen's history. He would be quick to dismiss and be perfectly fine with others dying in the line of duty, he held a certain affinity towards the cruel fates of children. It was not something he cared to discuss and still left a heavy, bitter and sour taste in his mouth. It was something that defined him, literally, to this day.

As quickly as it came, the foreboding look melted away and a smile revealed his shark-like teeth. Another aspect from his past, nearly identical to his sister's. Although hers had become more natural due to her affinity and her intimate connection to the spirit beast that shared her body, his were not any less perplexing or sharp. "Anyone have any questions?" If any of them had any Kaen would do his best to answer them, otherwise or after he would declare the official start of their mission and set off into the sandy sea that stretched out before them.

Kaen would be leading and would instruct them to follow him in a v-type formation. Kaen with the lead at the front-center position, Daijamitsu and Kazu at respective corner positions about thirty feet from him both directions. If looked at from above it should make a perfect triangle and all three members of the squad being equal distances from one another. Upon instructing them to take up such a formation he would convey the importance behind it, which would be purely for an extra level of awareness. They were to serve as scouts, along with him, in the case of a wild Unbent occurrence. They were also to be on the lookout for any tracks that may lead them to a pack of boars.

About twenty minutes into their journey Kaen would weave a single handsign, evidence of his level of skill to be able to perform this sort of jutsu, and two other Kaens would poof into existence. [Elemental Clone - Mastered] He and both his clones would continue running, but his clones would fall back to both Daijamitsu and Kazu. He figured he might as well converse with them as they traveled. He had some questions for Kazu, and a conversation left un-finished with Daijamitsu.

With Kazu...

"So... I've recently learned you're also from the Ryuzaki clan. Are you related to Lord Raizo in some way other than clan name?" This was only the start of the conversation, but he had been meaning to speak with him about the wall attack since the party at Lord Nobu's. But it simply wasn't the time or place, what better time than now when no ears could be offended. But the nature of clans were something confusing to him, originally thought to only be reserved to blood relations. Having learned that one can be adopted into clans, much like the Shinku name had been adopted into Lord Sousuke's banner, he thought it best to know his relationship to their respective Kage.

With Daijamitsu...

"Keeping up alright?" Having seen Kazu in the heat of battle he had no notion to suspect he would lag behind and knew full well of the capabilities and strength of his endurance. But Daijamitsu was a sort of enigma to him and his origins were unknown. His complexion was also concerning, was he ill in some way or simply foreign like himself. After his reply Kaen would continue off of their conversation earlier. "While there shouldn't be any need to showcase my skills, i'm not limited to just fire ninjutsu. I'm fairly good with all of the basic elements. I'm capable of using a number of kekkei genkai based on fire nature transformations. I'm also quite handy with a blade when I need to and can also use genjutsu albeit not to the skill level of those specializing in it." There were a number of assorted details he could go into concerning these things and others, but it was not pertinent information at this time. For example the possession of a cursed seal and it's benefits, or the fact that he was not very adept at countering genjutsu. Perhaps in time he might discover more details about him, but only if their paths continued to cross in the future.
 
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Daijamitsu

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The update for the mission objectives made Daijamitsu uneasy, especially as he hadn't been prepared to capture dustboars alive. In fact, despite being a ninja and having training in a range of skills, his animal capture experience was limited to cats and dogs. The plan, as far as the Genin had been concerned, had been to provide support to Kaen - who he figured would handle the killing - and would largely be present to carry bags of meat to the mission drop off location. But now they had to keep their quarry alive? Transporting large unconscious boars? And potentially deal with Unbent?

I am not prepared for this eventuality, equipment-wise.

Still, the mission had to go on, and deciding to trust in the team leader, Daijamitsu remained quiet and assumed Kaen knew what he was doing. Since he brought up the alteration to the mission, Daijamitsu figured the older shinobi had several things in mind that would allow the group to complete it. And if not, well, that would be a bridge to cross when they came to it.

"No questions, Kaen-sensei," Daijamitsu replied, his yellow eyes contemplative. "Following your lead."

There was a quick explanation of the formation the team would move in, and then they were off. Daijamitsu was back several dozen feet to Kaen's right, making up the lower right corner of the triangle they now ran in. To his left, some distance away, Daijamitsu cast a look to Kazu. The other Genin seemed considerably strong in comparison, his physicality more toned and speed seemingly less effortless. When it came to the smaller, younger Genin, there was a definite gap in skill levels and training benefits. But, since he had graduated the Academy at such a young age, Daijamitsu knew that he would continually play catch-up to others.

Running was simple enough, Daijamitsu had some level of endurance, and his legs moved with an easy and smooth lope. The Genin's boots barely touched the ground, like he was suspended from wire and only placed the bare minimum on the sand, without losing speed. It was around the twenty minute mark of continuous running that Daijamitsu watched Kaen bring some clones into existence. One of the pair dropped back to run alongside the pale skinned Genin, matching the child's pace very easily.

"This is the longest I have run without stopping at nearly top speed," Daijamitsu said to the clone, keeping his eyes straight to keep the real Kaen in view. "But I can still keep this pace for a while yet. If we went faster I would begin to struggle. I am okay though, Kaen-sensei."

There was no point in hiding weakness. Daijamitsu was the weakest link in this team, he knew it, so if Kaen understood that the Genin was aware of that fact, and didn't plan on making stupid or rash decisions to prove his bravado or ego, the more focused the leader could be on the mission overall.

"An affinity for fire, then?" Daijamitsu questioned, when Kaen began speaking about his strengths and weaknesses. The earlier conversation had been cut short, so it was nice to know that Kaen cared enough to bring it up and continue. "It sounds like you have a wide range of skills. Is that intentional? Did you want to be capable in most areas, without specializing in any one area?

"If you could do it again, would you take the same path with the knowledge you have now?"


Daijamitsu imagined having a jack-of-all-trades methodology to ninja experience would be a double-edged sword. On one hand, said ninja was flexible and able to adapt to various situations; but on the other, said ninja likely wouldn't have the same level of skill in an area as a specialist. It was an interesting tact for Kaen to go with, and it made Daijamitsu curious as to why the older shinobi would spread his skills out so far. Was Daijamitsu's own focus on Taijutsu and Genjutsu a negative limitation? Should he, too, aim at improving his elemental Ninjutsu capabilities?

Perhaps Kaen's answer would provide some clarity to think on...

[ MFT ][ WC: 677 ]
 
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Kazu

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"Well put, both of you. I'm glad you've both taken such initiative in the mission. Many others would depend on the strength and knowledge of others to get by, that is not my shinobi way." Kazu couldn’t keep the grin off his face. Praise was welcomed by Kazu wholeheartedly, and it made the boy giddy to get going. "There is, however, a slight change in the parameters of today's goal." Just as quickly as it had appeared, the smile faded away. ’What sort of change are talking about, here?’ As far as Kazu had understood of this mission, it would be a rather simple and straightforward operation. Find the Dustboars. Kill the Dustboars. Bring the Dustboars back for whoever had contracted them to do so. Quick, easy, and to the point.

It seemed this mission was not to be so simple. "The individual who provided this mission for us has requested that we capture the dustboars alive instead of simply slaying them. It would seem that the date to his...party has been pushed back and it's too much trouble for them re-commission our services. And so he wants them alive so they can be butchered the day of the new date." Kazu gulped. ’This is…different.’ Kazu felt his pulse quicken, momentarily, as the reality of what that meant sank in for the young boy. For him, hunting and killing some prey was a simple enough matter — this, however, was about much more than that. To capture a wild animal alive meant misdirection, setting the pace of the engagement, and all the while maintaining a delicate enough touch to not kill the best yet not so delicate as to allow oneself to come into harm’s way. ’This is a tightrope walk, with no safety net underneath, and across a deep chasm.’ To make matters even better, Kaen-sensei continued on with a rather serious, and gruesome, face. "A word of caution, there is a chance we may encounter Unbent out there, another reason I'm here. While the night was won, the threat has not been sighted as of late, the danger is still very real and I'm not the type to be ok with you two dying on my watch."

Kazu allowed a grimace to form on his face. While he had plenty of experience handling the Unbent, that wasn’t to say he found any pleasure or comfort in it. Dealing with this new challenge, as well as the possibility of encountering a swarm of shambling, thoughtless, drones was certainly more than Kazu had initially anticipated. ’But a shinobi takes what’s given, adapts to what is unforeseen, and handles the rest as it comes.” There wasn’t much else that the young boy could do, anyways. As Kaen smiled, so did Kazu. "Anyone have any questions?"

"No questions, Kaen-sensei," came the voice of Daijamitsu, who seemed lost in his thoughts a bit. Kazu certainly understood that, and wondered if there was anything he could do to reassure the boy. "Following your lead."

”I’ve only got one question,” said Kazu, his eyes darting between Kaen and Daijamitsu. ”Can we at least get one extra for the three of us to share? I know how to cook it up, and everything!” A smile, and a slight chuckle, told them both that he was kidding. But the hungry glint in his eyes told a different story, entirely. ”We can think of it as a team-bonding experience? A necessary re-fuel for the rest of the mission?”

With that, the three of them set off into the desert. Kazu took the bottom-left corner of the V-shaped triangle Kaen had instructed them to form-up into. A necessary precaution, in case of Unbent, although Kazu rather disliked not being able to converse as they traveled. Not so far apart that he was unable to still visually communicate with his partners, though — he noticed Daijamitsu looking over once or twice, and gave him a big grin and a thumbs up in response. ’He doesn’t seem like the reckless type,’ thought Kazu, somehow not lumping himself into that category instead. ’I wonder what kind of shinobi he is, though.’ Just as Kazu’s mind began to wander, and his desire to converse grew to its zenith, two clones of Kaen came to run alongside each of them. ’Hmm…I really gotta learn that trick.’ Somehow, Kazu hadn’t quite gotten to Clone Techniques in his training, yet — although, this was ample motivation for him to learn.

"So... I've recently learned you're also from the Ryuzaki clan. Are you related to Lord Raizo in some way other than clan name?" It seemed Kaen had some questions for Kazu. That was fine with the boy; he didn’t really understand the need to hold anything back, like he’d seen other people do before. To Kazu, honesty was the best policy. ”That’s right! He’s my older cousin; he and my older brother, Enishi, are probably closer, but we’re pretty well acquainted, too. My father, Ryuzaki Ryohei, is the younger brother to his father, Ryuzaki Oga.” Hesitating a moment, however, Kazu felt a little odd telling Kaen everything. But after a few moments, he decided that, if he was going to be honest, he would be fully honest. ”We’re not really related by blood, though. I was adopted into the clan, you see…my father says he found me during the nights of the Cabal attacks. I like to think we’ve got the same spirit, though.” The exact origins of Kazu’s blood, while relatively unknown to the boy, held a deeper mystery than even he knew. The Kokotsu were an old clan, forgotten about for generations. But that…was for another time…

”What about you, Kaen-sensei? I didn’t know you and Kasen were related. What’s your family like?” Deciding to turn the questions around, Kazu looked curiously at the squad leader. It had been an astounding revelation to find out that both of the two mentors the young boy had found in the village were related to each other. He wondered about their past, as well. ”Did you both grow up in this village, together?”

[WC: 1013]
[Total WC: 2321 / 4000]
 
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Kaen

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Earlier...





”I’ve only got one question,” Kazu spoke up before they set out, glancing between Kaen and Daijamitsu. ”Can we at least get one extra for the three of us to share? I know how to cook it up, and everything!” A devilish grin accompanied with playful laughter gave hint to a facetious demeanor. Kaen saw the look in his eye, perhaps even a small globule of drool in the corner of his mouth as well. ”We can think of it as a team-bonding experience? A necessary re-fuel for the rest of the mission?” Kaen laughed heartily, his eyes closed and head titled back. He admired his spunk and would consider his jest-like request. "Perhaps. I'm gonna make you work for it though, so I expect you to give it your best today!"
 
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Kaen

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With Daijamitsu...

Keeping his focus forward Daijamitsu would respond in kind. "This is the longest I have run without stopping at nearly top speed, but I can still keep this pace for a while yet. If we went faster I would begin to struggle. I am okay though, Kaen-sensei." The clone would nod with understanding. He appreciated his forthrightness, it was a strength to acknowledge your own limits. Given his current standing it was no surprise that this was the case. Prodigy or not, he was still very young and not many others would be getting this sort of experience at their age.

"An affinity for fire, then?" The clone would nod again. "Definitely. At a young age fire ninjutsu came naturally to be, as if I was made for it." There was a double meaning hidden in this. But there was a very low chance that the young boy would pick up on it. This entire statement was truth, but the grey area was he was very much made for it. Was he ever normal? Or did his time at that prison like lab simply augment and accelerate the transformation within. Kaen might never know for certain. "It sounds like you have a wide range of skills. Is that intentional? Did you want to be capable in most areas, without specializing in any one area? His clone gave an ere of contemplation before answering. Though he already knew the answer to the question, he was simply trying to bide time to carefully consider how to respond. Simply 'to gain power' was probably not the best response, or the most appropriate. "In my pursuit of safety for something I quickly discovered It would be near impossible to protect this thing from everything unless I myself became capable of everything." Yeah, that might do it.

"If you could do it again, would you take the same path with the knowledge you have now?" The ultimate question for nearly every seasoned individual. A difficult thing really, it was no simple question. Everything one would have gone through, experienced and overcome, even the short comings all amounted to who they were as a being. What would the consequences be should they choose new paths in life? The butterfly effect was an astounding enigma that Kaen was never going to have the answer to. But this too he knew exactly what he would say and would reply without hesitation. "Yes, without a doubt. Everything I've done, i've accomplished, all amounted to this end goal I've sought for so many years." A solemn, somber look overtook the clone as his thoughts fell back to the reason for it all. This past was always haunting him. The desire for power was more than just to protect that thing, it was to protect himself as well.

Suddenly!!!
 
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Kaen

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Currently...


With Kazu...

Surprisingly, but not that surprising, the two were indeed connected. Kaen would proceed to get a nearly complete explanation of the Ryuzaki family tree, or close to it anyway. This was all important information, at least to Kaen. Information was practically a currency in the grander scheme of things. More so considering his classified position as Anbu. With his new found standing orders to be the eyes and ears of Tenken in his absence, Kaen felt it paramount to learn all he could about anyone he engaged with. Without arousing suspicion of course. Wouldn't be much of an Anbu if he had a significant 'tell'. What did surprise him though was learning of Kazu's specific origins, or lack there of. The Cabal attack was not something he was entirely familiar with, perhaps there was some significance and linkage to these seemingly separate events.

”What about you, Kaen-sensei? I didn’t know you and Kasen were related. What’s your family like?” The clone would smile briefly. It became slightly more difficult to discern since Kasen's mysterious transformation, one that even Kaen was not aware of yet aside from the change in hair color and maturity. "Me? Well, for a long time people assumed we were twins. Our hair used to be the same color at one time." As they continued running the clone would reach into his coat and pull out a small photograph and handed it to Kazu. "This is us about 10 years ago. We were spending time in Fire Country going from beach to beach. She loves the open waters."

After he handed the photo back he would have another question for Kaen. ”Did you both grow up in this village, together?” This was a very difficult question for him personally. He was not one to reveal that much about himself that wasn't readily known to the public. And Kaen was not the type to lie, or even out rightly refuse answering a question of this nature. It seemed a harmless question in nature, but to the right ears it could mean much more. For now he would dance around the question and give an answer that didn't reveal much but still possibly would satisfy. "For as long as I can remember Kasen and I have been nigh inseparable. Probably what gave way to that twin rumor. Which again I insist is untrue. I'm a few years older than she is." Thankfully he was being saved by the bell because;

Suddenly!!!
 
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Kaen

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Without warning both of Kaen's clones would poof out of existence, their conversational memories flooding into the original's mind. His hand would be raised and un-clenched, he had also suddenly stopped running. Those well trained to pick up on minute fluctuations, or those simply sensitive to chakra or even adept doujutsu users would have picked up on the threat yet unseen. Another layer of added difficult was the numerous sand dunes that easily hid things that wanted to remain unseen, or even things not even trying.

A voracious, alarming groaning wail echoed across the dunes. A single Unbent tread across their intended path. Had they continued running it would have spotted them without fail. It appeared to be injured to some degree, a limping gait suggested some sort of leg trauma. Kaen would motion for them to approach as he himself slowly dropped low to the ground in a prone position. If they did not already follow suit he would order them to do so. "Just as I thought. Thankfully it appears to be alone, but there's no way to know for sure." Kaen started, attempting to make this a teachable moment. "It appears vulnerable, but we have it on good authority it could be a ploy. Not all of these things are unintelligent, shambling monsters." Thanks to the medical corps, and the Oracles, they had learned crucial information that would aid their cause far above the cost of time utilized to gain such knowledge. "What do either of you think we should do? I'd like both of your inputs before making a final decision." He already had an idea in mind given it was only one Unbent, but this was an excellent opportunity to get inside the minds of these potential candidates.


[OOC MFT]
 
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The answers Kaen offered were careful, but said enough. The older ninja's mention of his fire affinity and seemingly being made for it caused Daijamitsu to wonder, supposing that perhaps he referred to some bloodline versed in the element use. It wasn't uncommon for families to have strong connections to jutsu natures or capabilities, so that seemed the most obvious reasoning. Like Daijamitsu, who had a heritage passed down from generations gone, they both appeared to have something unique about them... for better or worse.

"I understand," Daijamitsu said simply with a nod. "Specialists are specifically useful but limited, and generalists are less limited but also less specific... but the ratio of specialists seems higher compared to those who can do a broader range. Perhaps I will also invest in a broader knowledge to increase my overall usefulness to the village.

"We will see what I accomplish and how I develop, I suppose."


It was a decision that would continue to alternate and fluctuate, Daijamitsu was sure, as he was only eleven and had a lot of development ahead of him. But for now, at least he had a better process for considering where to place his specialties, if any. There was merit in both paths, of course, so more decision making - or even changes in the future - would likely happen naturally. For now though Daijamitsu had enough to consider when it came to the ninja arts and how to focus on them.

Suddenly, Kaen's clone dispersed with a puff. Ahead, the actual individual came to a stop, one hand held up to indicate the same to the team. Daijamitsu pulled up quickly, sliding a few feet across the sand as his boots dug in, before he was also motionless. When Kaen moved forward and went prone, the Genin followed suit and crawled up as quietly as possible next to the team leader. And ahead, while laying flat in the sand, Daijamitsu watched the shambling Unbent with narrowed yellow eyes. The slit pupils weren't just for show, they allowed the Genin some exceptional visual clarity. But as to whether the creature ahead was truly wounded, or alone, remained an unanswered question for the moment.

My instinct tells me to be cautious, Daijamitsu thought to himself, as he surveyed the nearby dunes, searching for other signs. I am not as familiar with Unbent as some, but this seems like an ambush no matter who is responsible for it...

As it stood, there was knowledge of more mentally capable Unbent, who were more than mindless monsters. That meant traps or planning could be a factor now, and the pale Genin felt that acting rashly against a single opponent, especially when the Unbent typically roamed in groups, was a mistake. Tactically, the terrain could be hiding any number of creatures.

"We know about the more intelligent Unbent," Daijamitsu said in a soft voice, as he looked to Kaen. "Even if this one is not one of those, it is possible an ambush with so many dunes around could be planned. The Unbent we see might be mindless, and injured, but it could also be bait used by a deadlier foe that remains hidden...

"I suggest more scouting information to ensure we are not surrounded before acting."


[ MFT ][ WC: 540 ]
 
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Kazu

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"Me? Well, for a long time people assumed we were twins. Our hair used to be the same color at one time." Kazu could only cast an incredulous sideways glance at the red-haired man, arcing one eyebrow dangerously far up his forehead, clearly not believing what he was hearing. But when the clone reached into its pocket, pulling out a picture of the both of them at an age not too much younger than he was now, Kazu thought he might accidentally knee his own bottom-jaw with it hanging down so low. ”I don’t believe it! THAT’S Auntie Kasen?! NO WAY!” Grabbing the photo to take a closer look when the clone offered it — the young boy still could hardly believe it — he listened to the reminiscences of an older brother thinking fondly back on a simpler time. "This is us about 10 years ago. We were spending time in Fire Country going from beach to beach. She loves the open waters."

Handing back the picture, Kazu wondered what sort of emotion that was he’d heard in the man’s voice. ’Sadness? Fear? Happiness? Perhaps a nostalgic forlornness?’ Kazu didn’t know Kaen well enough, yet, to know for sure, but there had definitely been something. Whatever it was, it sounded like Kaen had really enjoyed the time he’d spent with his sister, back then. ’I wonder if he misses those times?’ As if the older man had sensed Kazu’s thoughts, he continued by saying, "For as long as I can remember Kasen and I have been nigh inseparable. Probably what gave way to that twin rumor. Which again I insist is untrue. I'm a few years older than she is." This seemed to solidify Kazu’s previous thoughts; nostalgia for a simpler, earlier, time in life was a powerful emotion. The two seemed to have a bond that ran quite deep. ’They must have been through a lot together.’ Kazu noticed that the man avoided answering his last question, which was a tad odd. ’Is there something he doesn’t want to tell me, just yet?’ Before Kazu could even consider asking any further questions, however, the clone disappears in a haze of white smoke — the boy notices the real Kaen stopped ahead with a single hand raised with an open palm.

The signal could not have been clearer. Along with Daijamitsu, Kazu closes the distance and stops besides Kaen. His senses were on high alert: his ears pricked up to catch even the faintest smell, his nostrils flared to pickup even the most diluted smell, and even his mouth opened and closed slowly to taste the air. His eyes swiveled cautiously, trying to catch whatever his mentor had. ’Wait, is that…?’ The first thing he’d picked up was the smell — just a whiff of something rotten. Then the low moaning made its way to his ears. A touch of fear, but mostly the adrenaline of impending combat, began to course through Kazu’s body. ’It’s an Unbent.’ Memories of the Long Night came to him, which he quickly pushed away. Focusing on the present, Kazu followed Kaen’s lead to stay low and carefully peek over a sand dune to observe their quarry.

"It appears vulnerable, but we have it on good authority it could be a ploy. Not all of these things are unintelligent, shambling monsters. What do either of you think we should do? I'd like both of your inputs before making a final decision." Kaen was looking for their perspective, and Kazu was eager to prove himself capable in this area. As the boy studied the creature below, and gazed out at the environment around them, Daijamitsu spoke up. "We know about the more intelligent Unbent. Even if this one is not one of those, it is possible an ambush with so many dunes around could be planned. The Unbent we see might be mindless, and injured, but it could also be bait used by a deadlier foe that remains hidden…I suggest more scouting information to ensure we are not surrounded before acting."

”I agree with Daijamitsu,” began Kazu, ”there’s a strong possibility this one is either not alone, or else there’s something bigger around here to deal with. Look at its leg.” Kazu didn’t point, or gesture, but stared directly at the leg injury hoping to perhaps perceive some deeper knowledge as to its origin. If it was a blade wound, or some other form of man-made weaponry, he was fairly confident that he’d be able to recognize it for such. ”I’ve not seen an animal, yet, that engages these things. What caused that leg injury? Is it still around?” Shaking his head, Kazu seemed to be holding onto a number of ideas in his mind at once. ”If this is a trap, taking this thing down — even if from a distance — could reveal our location. If we try to avoid it, we may still accidentally run into whatever is hiding and waiting for us to strike.” Kazu had wanted to keep this brief, but he didn’t know how else to express his concern. Deciding to simply commit to the long-winded explanation, he continued on in a level tone. ”As it is, I would suggest a baited attack of our own: using either clones, or some other diversion, we lure this Unbent away from our path and see what happens. If it’s alone, we take it out quickly and efficiently. If there’s something else here, then it might reveal itself willingly while it attacks, thinking that our diversion was our real attack.”

Kazu hoped he didn’t sound like he was rambling. Perhaps he was overthinking this, but caution in the field was better than regret in the infirmary. He stuck by his words and thought rushing in could end up in disaster for them all. Looking at Daijamitsu, then back to Kaen, he finished by asking calmly, ”What’s our move, sensei?”

[WC: 981]
[Total WC: 3302 / 4000]
 
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Kaen

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Kaen was of course testing these two genin, gauging each of their respective intellects and innate wisdom. Kazu had a leg up on Daijamitsu simply because of his current tenure as a genin, but Daijamitsu had already proven himself a step above the norm in his age group. Both were demonstrating great potential and promising futures as shinobi. Kaen was in agreeance with both of the genin. Daijamitsu's insight was sharp and surprisingly accuracate. Either the academy had gotten their act together and had begun teaching their students about the Unbent, or this kid had some some solo research. Given his history Kaen was led to believe it was the latter, this was good. Kazu was a well of information with understanding beyond his years. His gaze would not steer him wrong in this situation and would know that the injury had been caused by a man-made instrument. Though it was no bladed weapon, even Kaen would have difficulty discerning this wound considering his ineptitude with such contraptions. It was a rare oddity for someone to use projectile type weapons, guns were not something commonly used in the shinobi world. Had what followed not come to pass, Kaen most certainly would have gone the route Kazu suggested with a baited attack. But...

As the Unbent continued to hobble westward from their current position Kaen would acknowledge his genin in a hushed tone. "I think a baited attack of our own would be the best plan of action. With what little information we have this is the best course to take. I don't expect either of you to put yourself in harms way for this one..." Kaen would begin to form a few seals to create another clone of himself but stopped before the final seal, canceling the jutsu. His eyes narrowed as his ears perked up, something else was coming. Both of them most likely would have heard it as well, the soft and subtle pitter-patter of something, or someone, running on the surface of the desert at a hastened pace. From the same direction as the Unbent had come a mysterious masked individual would come sprinting from out behind the dunes.

"Get back here ya friggin monster!" A slightly distorted voice, on account of the odd mask, rang out as they literally jumped into action. This was no amateur desert traveler as they were quite adept at traversing the loose sand. It was almost as if they were barely giving any physical effort to tread across the sea of glistening sand, how peculiar. Kaen would pick up on this, but would his genin? And what did it mean? The unknown hunter would quickly gain upon the Unbent. But the Unbent had heard them coming and would turn to attack, to no avail however. It would lunge towards the pursuer as the distance was closed between them, it's gruesome maw wide and wanting, attempting to take a bite out of the hunter. "Get ya ugly mug outta muh face!" Quirky and determined, the masked being would drop to the ground and drift across the desert floor and kick the injured leg out from under the Unbent before pushing themselves off of the sand. Again the effort seemed minimal for the masked hunter, who was this and why were they out here chasing after Unbent? All the while the trio would still be ducked down behind cover and watching the scene unfold before them.

"Not so tough now, are ya?" They would punt the Unbent's face as it tried to crawl to its feet and go for another attack. A sickening crack rang out as its jaw came loose, thick black, viscous blood splattered across the sand. The hunter would place one foot on top of the Unbent's back to pin it down, pulling a large weapon off their back they would place the muzzle firmly against the back of the Unbent's head. "Teach you to eat up my merchandise, piece o' shit..." A muffled shot would ring out as they pulled the trigger. It was quieter than one would expect had anyone been familiar with this particular weaponry. It was a shotgun of sorts, but somehow suppressed to reduce the amount of noise it made as it was discharged. Picking up a loose end of their cloak they would clean the end of their gun off, wiping away black residue. "Damn Unbent anyway, so bad for business these days..." The hunter would grumble surlily as they started back from whence they came.

Clearing his throat, not entirely expecting this sort of development, Kaen would address the situation. "Well... That was interesting." Normally he might have just waited a while longer and then set out as normal, but something about this whole ordeal rubbed him the wrong way. Merchandise was a multi-faceted term in the land of Wind Country. Most commonly referring to wares of some sort, but not ones that an Unbent would 'eat'. Their sort only really had one goal or interest and that was people. If his intuition was right, this guy was up to no good despite his most welcome dispatching of the Unbent. "Following Daijamitsu's sound suggestion, we will scout for information. Something seemed off about what that guy said just now." Using his Anbu skills he would weave together a simple, yet not commonly known, string of signs. [Snapshot] A faint glimmer in his eyes would be the only physically noticeable effect of his jutsu, if this was going to be what he thought it was then recording it would be critical for any follow up.

"Which of you know how to track?" Prompting a response from his two squad members, he would give one, or both of them, a chance to further prove themselves. While he was the leader of this mission, he did not want to hold their hand and do everything for them. He was merely there to supervise at best as this was supposed to be a simple mission to hunt down some boars. Although there was a slight twist and deviation from the original task, this would provide welcomed opportunities for practice and experience. Though if neither of them knew how or were uncomfortable with attempting it, Kaen would of course yield and do it himself. But given Kazu's background he at least would have some semblance of understanding in the ways of tracking. Either way the story would unfold itself it would be pertinent to notice the indentations made by the masked hunter. Comparatively to those of the Unbent, whos tracks were deep and distinct, the hunter's would be lighter and more evenly spread. In fact it was nearly identical to their own footsteps, or at least Kaen's who had learned to adapt the water walking skill towards the different yet similar structure of the desert sand.

Along the followed trail the trio would encounter a few more slain Unbent, all shot by the same weapon type that the hunter had used previously. All the way the hunter's trail kept its uniform pattern consistent with the theory outlined previously. More and more as Kaen went along he suspected they were trailing another ninja, or at least someone proficient with the usage of chakra. Not more than about ten minutes worth of methodical tracking they would crest a sandy ridge and spot the hunter some distance away. Far enough for him not to hear them, but close enough to know it was him, and what he was approaching. Immediately the air around Kaen would grow noticeably more torrid, his fists clenching, a resentful look flaring to life in his eyes. "You get them sum'bitches, Eiji?" So the hunter had a name, good.

Waving nonchalantly as he approached an interestingly designed pulled sled-carriage. About a dozen large, beefy dustboars were reined together with thick bridles, ropes and chains. Together they were pulling this sled-carriage, more appropriately labeled as a prison wagon with how they were using it. About four tied and gagged children were restrained upon the wagon, a fifth one mangled and bloody carelessly tossed off to the side. This must have been the 'merchandise' Eiji had spoken of as he dispatched the Unbent from earlier. "Yeah I gottem." Eiji lazily replied as he hopped up onto the back of the wagon, the other at the head with the reins and whip in hand. "Good, that'l teach'em. They got that lil girl good, she would have fetched a pretty sum. Wadda shame." Barely able to restrain himself, much less either of the genin with him, Kaen would allow them to trail away into the distance as the front man cracked the whip, causing the boars to rush off.

Had Daijamitsu or Kazu attempted to run into the fray Kaen would have stopped them. Hopefully the fierce, intense look in his eyes would be enough to subdue them lest he need to resort to more physical means. While he wished for nothing more than to go out and stomp the life out of both of these human traffickers, he needed to know where their final destination was. To label them as such might seem a bit premature, but the evidence was pretty hard to deny. There was little to no reason for any of them to suspect it as anything else. The evidence was too much to think otherwise. Rage clearly building up within the Flame Court Hybrid, Kaen would order his genin through gritted teeth. "Daijamitsu, Kazu... Let's go."

Slightly visible flames would begin to lick outwards off his body as he rose up from their hiding position. The wagon out of sight now and the coast clear, Kaen would approach the female corpse the hunters left behind. Her lifeless eyes laid open, blood strewn nearly everywhere. Her clothes ripped in places, lacerations covering the majority of the girl. She couldn't have been much older than seven or eight years old, so young and helpless. The apparent cause of death was the large gash in her neck, loose strands of flesh caked with dried blood gave evidence to the statement made by Eiji, the Unbent "eating" their merchandise. Kaen would not advice them to shield their eyes, no. Should they wish to become true shinobi of Sunagakure this is something they would need to learn to stomach. This was the nature of their line of work, the same fate might become of them as well. Leaning down to close the girl's eyes Kaen would speak again in a low, solemn voice, but not to them. "Mother Suna, watch over the soul of this lost child. Take her into your benevolent bosom, may she find peace in your ways..." A curiosity to be sure. But despite her disappearance, Kaen still revered Mother Suna to be the governing god queen of this country. Having met her face to face, those particular and undisclosed events having transpired, he felt it appropriate to do this. That and he had somewhat of a personal stake in this, but nobody but Kasen would fully understand this.

"Stand back you two." Kaen spoke as he rose and stepped back a few paces. There was no way of knowing where they had stolen the girl from, giving her some sort of burial was the least he could do. After performing some semi-comlex handsigns together the earth would swallow the girl and fresh sand would cover the area up leaving no trace of the grizzly murder. [Antlion Sinkhole] [Sand Coffin] Turning to Kazu and Daijamitsu he would address the obvious discomfort as well as the distressing situation they had stumbled upon. "While I don't usually expect genin to have to experience such things, consider this a hard life lesson of reality. This is what your life will consist of, harsh outcomes that you won't always be able to control. Death is inevitable in a shinobi's line of work. If this is something you cannot come to terms with you should find another profession immediately. Rest assured my young genin, these assailants will not go unpunished." Turning his head towards the direction the sled had gone he would continue; "Fortune has favored us, delivering two bounties into our hands. A convenient sounder of dustboars, and a pair of human traffickers that we will apprehend." By apprehend he meant kill, most likely, after exacting whatever information he needed beforehand, but that was for a later scene. "Any questions, comments? Now is the time, because here on out it's going to get serious..."
 
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Daijamitsu

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Jan 7, 2020
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It was an interesting turn of events, for sure. The injured Unbent turned out to be the target of another individual, one wearing a mask and wielding a powerful gun. Such weapons were said to be rare, as this was the first one Daijamitsu had seen in his life, and could immediately see how deadly the mechanical projectiles could be. It took moments for the masked fighter to dispatch the Unbent, before giving the kill shot and muttering about losses and merchandise. One thing Daijamitsu did notice was the masked man's use of chakra to traverse the sand lightly, allowing him to skim across it similarly to how ninja did with water...

Interesting, Daijamitsu thought as he watched with narrowed eyes. Maybe that is something worth trying later?

Then Kaen gave the command to follow, asking whether either of them knew how to track. Daijamitsu had only basic lessons but otherwise didn't feel confident to the task, given how well the masked man moved across the sand. A simple gust of wind would likely wipe the trail easily, so the Genin shook his head and followed the lead of the older shinobi. It didn't take long for the team to reach a crest in a dune, where Kaen told them to remain low. Daijamitsu did so, crawling to the lip in the sand, before he peered over - and what he saw made his blood run cold. And as he lay beside his companions in the sand, observing the scene ahead, Daijamitsu winced as repressed memories started to flood back...

It was evening, as the family of three walked home. It was quiet, too quiet in hindsight, as they passed closed stores and homes. The path home took the family through several alleyways, and it was in the third that they discovered trouble. From ahead, scrambling from a concealed catacomb entry, a group of slavers surprised the three. The bandits had been on a mission to collect unsuspecting civilians in the late night, only to stumble upon the shinobi family due to bad timing, which caused a tense standoff. Daijamitsu's parents stood their ground, knowing they couldn't allow the slavers the opportunity to continue on their mission or to escape, not to mention their son was too young to fight and lacked real training to make a retreat without risk.

Both groups eyed the other, with the slavers outnumbering the family four to one. Normally those odds wouldn't matter too much to a trained ninja, but when it came down to protecting their son, the pair were on the disadvantage. Too isolated to flee with him in toe safely, too surrounded to overcome the odds while protecting him... but, at least they could try, even as Daijamitsu's mother set off a flare high overhead, calling for reinforcements!

The two sides launched into battle, their movements like blurs to the small child, who could only watch with dazed surprise. Clashes of weapons, sparks of impacts, daggers and kunai clattered as the shinobi fought to their utmost to keep their son safe until friendly forces could arrive. Too quickly the shinobi were overwhelmed, especially when the slavers began targeting the boy, putting the fighters on the back foot. Several moments after it began, the fight was over, with Daijamitsu's mother falling last to a sword slash across the chest, as she defended in front of her son...

"Should we kill the kid, Tenzen?"

"Yeah, no witnesses."

And then, Daijamitsu was standing alone in the alleyway. Before him, the group of slavers moved forward over the dead bodies of the boy's parents, their corpses bleeding and their eyes unseeing, scattered amid several of the villains they sought to stop. But the cost wasn't worth the loss for the child, as all we saw was a future alone, without his parents, forever seeing them as dead things in his dreams covered in blood. They had been noble shinobi, dedicated to the village, and this is what had become of them.

And for what, a random encounter with bandits during an evening walk home?

The only reason Daijamitsu survived was the timely intervention of a local shinobi patrol that arrived mere seconds before Tenzen's sword landed the blow to the boy. The rest of it was a blur, a mixture of overpowering confusion and chaos.


Daijamitsu blinked his yellow eyes, staring out at the pair that operated the slavers caravan. Between his own past and loss to slavers, and the ones who were transporting the children a distance away, it was all the Genin could do to keep under some semblance of control. As it was, Daijamitsu's fingers dug into the sand, gripped so tightly that the already pale skin turned even whiter at the knuckles. The boy's yellow eyes blazed, distinct hatred and anger clearly evident, even as his mouth clenched and his teeth gritted. Daijamitsu's breathing was short and hard, his back hunched, as he fought the nearly overwhelming desire to rush toward the slavers to slaughter them... and unbeknownst to the boy, a change had begun to take place in his body, as his deeply contained ancient ancestry began to inch closer to the surface: a dark, menacing and foreboding aura was now emanating from Daijamitsu!

There was no real physical indication, but the air around him seemed to become heavier, uncomfortable, as though a fog of the mind had begun rolling in. And while not a strong sensation, it was certainly noticeable for those paying attention. Whether Daijamitsu was aware of it or not was unknown, as his focus remained solely on the slavers ahead, his neck veins pulsing as he continued to fight the want to charge. Were it not for the inherent lessons of obeying orders there was little doubt the Genin would have pounced. As it was, he could barely contain himself, and Kaen would need to do something soon, or risk having to physically restrain the boy.

Suddenly the caravan began to move, as the crack of the whip caused Daijamitsu to snap out of his reverie.

When the order to move was given by Kaen, Daijamitsu was right behind him, angling directly for the small form on the ground. When the team got close, the Genin saw the young girl and lowered his eyes, his fists clenched. Her blood seeped into the sand, several wounds across her body and the likely killing blow to the neck. Daijamitsu stood silently, his gaze unwavering, as Kaen closed the girl's dead open eyes and said a small passage for her passing. Sadly, despite his age, Daijamitsu was no stranger to dead things; though this was the first time he had been this close to a recently deceased human body. Internally it opened a number of doorways that led to questions, his curiosity leaping in a hundred different ways. He wanted to look at the wounds, to understand the anatomy firsthand; he wondered about the soul and where it went, if there even was one; he wanted to know if there was time to bring someone back, if there was a jutsu that allowed such a thing; but most importantly he wanted to see the light fade from the slaver's eyes, after they had been given similarly killing blows...

"I want them to suffer," Daijamitsu muttered, as his yellow eyes watched the sand cave in where the girl's body lowered. "My parents were killed by slavers... the scumbags responsible for this girl's death will not harm anyone else, I swear it."

Looking to Kazu, then to Kaen, Daijamitsu's face was a passive mask. Yet, beneath it all, there lurked that slithering aura, expulsing dread.

"I am ready to hunt them down."

[ WC: 1,265 ]
 
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Kazu

Well-Known Member
Oct 22, 2012
3,340
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139,650
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The more Kazu watched the shambling creature before them, and the more he studied the wound on its leg, the more sure he was that the injury was not natural. However, he could also tell that no bladed, spiked, or blunt hand-held weapon could have caused that sort of scattering and ripping of flesh. He had heard rumors of strange weapons — they shot projectiles like bows, but their wielders carried no quivers; they caused great devastation, yet were also difficult to operate — but had never seen one himself. ’Is that…a gunshot wound?’ He could not be certain, but the Ryuzaki Clan were crazy about their fighting styles, weaponry, and knowing everything they could about every type of weapon. As the adopted son of the Vulcanus, the leader of the Ryuzaki Clan’s own version of the Journeymen, Kazu had heard his father speak of such odd weaponry before.

Spitting on the dune in front of him, Kazu wore a look of utter distaste and revulsion. His stare was cold, and offended, when he realized that a man who would stoop to such low-grade weaponry trash was hunting the Unbent before them. Like most others in the Ryuzaki Clan, Kazu considered fighting with one’s own skills to be crucial towards gaining honor and respect. Swords were like an extension of the body. Fists were even better. But a gun? ’I hope whoever he is stumbles into an Archer Lizard’s burrow, face first.’

Kaen began to go over the plan with them, but before he had a chance to fully hash out his ideas, the mystery gunslinger made his entrance. Kazu noted the way he skimmed along the surface of the sands, much like Kaen did, and realized the oddly-suited man must at least be somewhat chakra sensitive. ’And yet, still, he neglects his gifts in favor of some flashy stick? Now I really have a bone to pick with this walking insult.’ The man clearly had some natural talent: the way he fought the Unbent up close, kicking its legs out and grappling it into the ground, spoke to some degree of physical combativeness — which only pissed Kazu off more. He was so upset, vehemently grumbling to himself about low-grade fighters and their tricks, that he almost missed something important.

The man was grumbling, too. About merchandise, and how the slain Unbent had ‘eaten’ it up. Confusion plagued his face. When he looked towards Kaen, to see what his expression was like, the young boy saw the same vexation. The same sense of something being “off” about the man’s demeanor.

As the man walked away, leaving the slain Unbent where he’d pinned it down, the group began to stir. ’Interesting doesn’t begin to cover it,’ thought Kazu, but voiced none of his concerns yet. He could still be wrong; he hoped he was. "Following Daijamitsu's sound suggestion, we will scout for information. Something seemed off about what that guy said just now." Kazu’s hopes began to feel misplaced, as Kaen voiced the unease which the young boy had seen in his eyes moments ago. An icy hand felt like it was closing in on his heart — was he prepared for this, today? He had to be. There was no choice. When Kaen asked if either of them knew how to track, Kazu merely grunted testily. His confusion had turned to icy fury, barely contained.

”I’ll lead us right to him. I’d recognize a man like that, and where he’s going, a mile away.” Leaving it at that, the boy began to follow the tracks in the sand. Years of roaming the deserts with his father, and brother, had taught him well; this was not his first time tracking prey in the shifting sands. Running alongside the shambling, clumsy, footprints the Unbent had made, Kazu noted that the man’s tracks were almost identical to Kaen’s. “Sand-Skimming” seemed to be a more widely-known skill than Kazu had realized, but also made him wonder if the man they were pursuing had at one point been a Sunagakure Shinobi, to have learned such a method of traversal? ’I’m not sure how to feel about that thought…’

On they went, carnage following them. A littered trail of Unbent bodies, all with the same gunshot wound in the head, spoke louder than the masked man’s words ever could have. He had gone after an entire group of Unbent, alone, on account of “merchandise” — either the man had a short temper, or his merchandise was quite valuable. Probably, both. After a short time, the group approached a sandy ridge. What they saw, below, was the last straw for Kazu. ’Eiji, you bastard, I’m going to make you wish you’d never been born…’

A large wagon, pulled by a dozen Dustboars and manned by another no-good-son-of-Barynx, seemed to be carrying a handful of young children — younger even than Kazu and Daijamitsu — towards a bleak future. Another child’s figure laid face-up in the sands not far off from the wagon, discarded and forgotten about. ’They’ll pay for this. No one should be made to go through this kind of hell.’ Every fiber of Kazu’s being urged him to rush towards the traffickers and beat them senseless. Maybe he’d even chain together their limbs, tie them on a leash to trail behind their own wagon, and make them walk barefoot through the desert until they begged for mercy — then laugh, and ignore them. Spit in their faces. Cut up the soles of their feet, make them walk on pointed rocks, and then he’d…

Kazu blinked. ’Wait...hang on...isn’t that going a bit far?’ Sure, the child hated seeing what these people had done — and yes, he wanted justice for the souls that they’d trampled over — but were these daydreams really coming from his own mind? ’Do I really want that?’ Kazu felt confused. Yet, as he watched the wagon pull away, he noted the painful strain in his limbs that came from preventing himself chasing after them — and, he wasn’t the only one struggling to contain himself. Sensing that his two companions were just as conflicted, Kazu realized that, perhaps, those two slavers deserved what they got? Perhaps, it was acceptable for him to...let loose…? He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he was confused, and anxious.

”Stand back you two.” Kaen said, and proceeded to form a few handseals. The desert opened its very maw, and swallowed the dead girl whole. Just as Kaen had said some words of prayer, Kazu would chime in with a few words as well. ”Legatus, shield her… Legatus, lead her… Legatus, show her mercy… Legatus, let her rest… “

Kazu hoped their solemn words reached that poor girl’s soul; he hoped that they would ensure her suffering was not in vain. Kaen spoke of lessons, reality, control, death, and fortune — Kazu was having trouble holding onto the words in his mind, for all the thoughts that were sending it reeling. Daijamitsu’s words — of how he wished they would suffer; of how he himself had been affected, deeply, by the heinous actions of slavers; and, of how he swore to hunt them down — reverberated within Kazu’s skull, bouncing around until they threatened to shatter his mind from the inside. His own feelings magnified their words, heightening and intensifying their meaning, until they threatened to consume him.

A rage was building inside of Kazu, the likes of which neither of them — nor he, himself — had yet seen.

”I’ll say this,” began Kazu. ”I have no sympathy for slavers, and I have no patience for their transgressions. However, we should not forget that we represent order and truth. Sunagakure does not need more sinners at its doors.“ He eyed his two compatriots, wondering how far each was willing to go in the name of vengeance. But, really, he wondered how far they would allow him to go in its name; or, how far he would pursue it. ”We bring them to justice, not it to them. Otherwise, what good do we do?”

The desert around him was dissolving, leaving nothing but a singular mission: find them. What he would do with them, once he found them, he didn’t know. But that could be handled once they were within his grasp. ’Focus on the step in front of you, not the one you wish you were at.’ Kazu would not let himself get jumpy, not now.

"I am ready. For whatever may come, and whatever we make happen — I stand with you both."

[WC: 1,414]
[Total WC: 4,716 / 4000]
 
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