The Cursed Cavern [Mission]

Muramasa Maya

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Grand Palais...

She hated it.

The entire area absolutely represented the worst point of Azusa's life. And though tried hard to put it behind her, stepping through the lower class slums had made her feel as if her past was wrapping its fingers around her.

"...."

She wanted to leave, to never set foot here again, or otherwise never again acknowledge its existence; or what the place meant to her. But averting her gaze from her past -and all the mistakes to be found there- was something she -could not- allow herself to do. Not that it wasn't easy for her, but because it would be -too- easy for her. She had already lost her mind to delusional madness once; she could not afford to let her vision be so narrow a second time.

Her choices were her own; she would not hide them, but instead atone for them. So when Azusa heard of a mission posted by someone in the slums, she (reluctantly) forced herself to take it. and of course, she would pull Riyota into it as well.

Not that this made anything easier for her to accept being here. The sketchy shops and bars, and even sketchier alleyways...It would be hard to decide which were gloomier; the atmosphere or the fox woman. She was uncharacteristically silent for most of the trip, uncomfortable being here with her knight. But her blood suddenly ran cold when she began to recognize where she was. "This alleyway...If the directions are right, then we'd be going to..." Uh-oh.

"...On second thought. I...may not need you Riyota." The Fox priestess spoke, hesitant to continue. " I am more than enough for this mission myself."

The alleyway they had arrived to? It was the very same one she had attacked him in the past.

[MFT]
 

Miroku Riyota

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Sworn protector or not, Riyota still technically fell into the typical definition of a human, and in most cases he still had human limits. Thus as he obediently followed his multi-tailed mistress he couldn't prevent himself from yawning and rubbing sleep from his tired eyes as unfortunately, Azusa had wanted to take on this mission first thing in the morning. And whilst she had enough energy to look in contempt at the area surrounding them, for the time being Riyota was reduced to tiredly and with bleary eyes trudging along behind her,

The young shinobi attempted to wake himself up as they walked, rotating his shoulders and wrists to get proper feeling back to them, well...obviously he could only get feeling back into one of his wrists. Riyota examined the recently crafted prosthetic as he followed. His sleeve was covering the majority of it so only the black steel hand was visible. It was certainly possible that Azusa had not yet noticed it, at the very least, she hadn't mentioned it. Riyota wasn't quite sure how she would react to it. 'She probably wants me to get a real one regrown...oh, she's gonna hate it isn't she.' It seemed that despite his fatigue, Riyota's mind still had time to worry about his Lady's opinions.

Eventually, Azusa suddenly stopped with no warning or explanation, merely deciding that perhaps Riyota would not be necessary after all. Riyota raised an eyebrow with suspicion, but didn't move from his spot. He wasn't about to abandon her for no reason, and he wasn't about to leave after he had been woken up so early for the task.

"Well, then think about it, if you bring me along we'll be done twice as fast." He suggested, moving ahead of her closer towards the alleyway, the location not sparking any semblance of a memory for him. "And when we're do-..." He was interrupted by a yawn. "When we're done perhaps we can go take a nap." It would be quite easy for someone to draw some sort of innuendo from his statement, but in truth Riyota's intentions were pure. He was tired, and he'd be hard pressed to claim Azusa was uncomfortable when it came to sleeping.

In any case, he turned to face her and continued taking steps backwards, closer towards the alley.

MFT
 

Muramasa Maya

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If anything, Riyota's comments had caused Azusa's tails to sway ever-so-slightly, pushing aside some of her doubt. "My, my Riyota. It is hardly the time or place for such thoughts...But you are not wrong; saving time here that could be better spent elsewhere is not an unappealing thought..." She sighed, although perhaps had only herself to blame for her knight's lack of rest. Her knight was absolutely right; they had come much to far for doubt to bother her now.

And with that, she less-hesitantly-than-before proceeded through the alleyway, making a few turns that eventually brought them to a large metal doorway, just by the scene of an almost-fox fight Riyota had broken up in the past. Azusa wasted no time pounding her fist against the doorway. Bang bang bang
....But was met with silence. She sighed, and tried again...this time timing her tabs in a sort of rhythm.
Knock-knock...Knock...Knock-Knock-Knock.

A small gap appeared near the top of the metal door; enough to peak through and perhaps slide thin packages through. And peak through someone did before speaking out in surprise."...Well, damn. If this ain't a sight. Hey Setsuna- your girls here." "Of course she is. My sweet Aika would never turn her fuzzy ears away from one of my requests. Now hurry up; do let her in." Shortly after the second voice spoke up, the sound of a lock being opened came from the other side of the fortified door. And a second. A third? And even fourth type of bolt sliding out of place.

....It took all of her willpower to not turn tails and run.

The door opened slowly, revealing a hallway hazed with smoke, and only dimly lit from dull lighting coming from the end. It went without saying that there were no windows to be seen on the outside of the building (thus, keping the smoke within), although any attempts at loitering around the hallway would be met with a massive hand on either or their shoulders to give an 'encouraging' nudge forward (or more specifically, Riyota's, given Azusa did not seem curious in the slightest).

Boxes and crates of varying sizes were stacked along the walls. Some of them were opened, revealing metallic weapons and items within. Others contained various plants and herbs, while others still seemed to hold containers holding some type of liquid. Sitting atop one such box that happened to be closed was a woman with long dark hair. Aside from Azusa and Riyota, these were the only other two figures in the room.


The first, the man who had 'escorted' them through the building; towering, easily pushing the upper limits of 6 feet to the point where it was impressive his bald head had not knocked out one of the dim lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling. Even his braod shoulders barely seemed to squeeze through the doorways.
The second was the woman sitting at the center of the room, the hazy smog coming from the lit pipe sitting between her long fingers. Unlike her counterpart, she had a full head of hair, (and had a slender figure that didn't seem to have any issue getting into the nooks and crannies of the run-down 'warehouse') Her hair was dark like her dress and seemed as if it would easily reach past her waist if she were standing. Her expression seemed to be eyeing Azusa and Riyota with curious amusement.

"How strange. I did call for you, specifically Aika. And did mention this was a personal favor of mine...not an official mission? " "This is Riyota. He belongs to me, and is someone you can trust." "*snort* You don't get far in this business by 'Trust', girl." The man spoke, turning his attention to Riyota. "Who are you boy? This ain't no normal mission; I'm looking for people who ain't afraid to see some dirt. If your one of them goody-by-the-books types, this is your one chance to leave. But if your open-minded individual, we can make this work. Weapons, money, product...I'm your boy."

[MFT]
 

Miroku Riyota

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Riyota nodded tiredly as Azusa agreed to his premise that getting this over and done with quickly would allow them to take care of more important things. He did however gain a confused expression on his face as she mentioned that it was not the time for such thoughts. He wondered why right now wasn't a time to think about sleeping. It seemed the things that he and Azusa were thinking of were likely very different...

He walked shoulder-to-shoulder with her down the alleyway, as she knew the way and he did not. He wanted to ask her what kind of mission it was that was requiring them to traverse such a suspicious looking and rather grimy alleyway. Before he could collect his thoughts fully though the short fox stopped in front of a large metal door and thudded on it. Riyota raised an eyebrow in confusion, but said nothing. After a brief moment Azusa knocked again, in a far more rhythmic sense. Riyota didn't think enough of it to try and memorise it.

The door swiftly produced a pair of eyes...wait no, the eyes were held in the sockets of the face of a person who was standing behind the door talking. Someone who spoke rather crassly and referred to Azusa as someone's girl Riyota already didn't like this. His fingers began to twitch and writhe anxiously. The young shinobi looked to his Lady, she was pale and looked like this was the last place she wanted to be. Riyota still had no idea what their mission was but he gently laid his real hand on her shoulder and squeezed lightly. Trying to re-assure her, even if he had no clue what was going on. Her safety was still his top priority.

Slowly the pair made their way in. Riyota slowing down slightly to examine all the crates containing weird assortments of objects. He didn't get a good look before a heavy hand shoved him in the back, almost knocking him flat on his face. He whipped around ready to attack back. Before noticing Azusa's expression, taking a deep breath he released his fist and felt his curse seal recede. "Touch me again and I'll fit you in one of these crates." Riyota growled, he already very much didn't like this situation.

His kerfuffle with the large gentleman was interrupted by a calm female voice, the young shinobi slowly turned back around to see an attractive woman smoking a strange device which was casting smog throughout the entire building. Riyota listened quietly as the two women conversed and it was made evident that he wasn't wanted here. Clearly Azusa and whomever the woman was had a history and the young man merely nodded when he was introduced as the Kitsune's possession, it had become one of Azusa's cute nicknames for him at this point.

It was the large man's turn to speak as he addressed Riyota directly, making it clear he didn't trust the smaller man. When he was done with his spiel about what the whole operation was Riyota cleared his throat and responded. "My name is Kudaranai Riyota, I work for Lady Azusa as a contraband trafficker, I've had to change my face many times to escape the scumbags they call lawmen. If you need something smuggled or delivered, I'm your man." Riyota lied through his teeth, putting on the act of a casual tough guy. Staring the large man and then the Woman he assumed was in charge dead in the eye. He wasn't sure why Azusa was associating with these individuals but he was willing to roll with it for now, in case there was some masterplan.

MFT
 

Muramasa Maya

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With some crafty wordplay from Riyota, he had managed to turn the skeptical man's wary expression into a wide, toothy grin. "....My Ninja, I like you. I saw it in ya right when you walked in; got this this real hard look to you. You're no stranger to this, I can see it." He spoke, accepting Riyota as just the right type of person he was looking for.
...And he was not the only individual to fully believe him either.
"Riyota..." Azusa muttered to herself, conflicted by the by 'discovery' of this unsavory hobby of Riyota's. After a brief moment that caused her to think of Riyota as less of a human, she decided she could salvage soemthing good from this newfound knowledge...Her opinion on him definitely was dialed down several notches though..."...Do you see now? He is not only reliable, but thrives in these shady practices like a worm in the mud! No act is too heinous for his unsavory soul, and no depths are too low for him to fall! Let it never be said Aikayume Azusa does not grace even the lowliest of scoundrels with her attention!" This was the first she had heard of it...But she would try turn it into an asset she could use, despite her judgemental nature telling her otherwise.

...Setsuna lowered her pipe from her lips, apparently content with Riyota's introduction. "Well, it seems sweet little Aika has certainly been busy. I just might have to consider you a competitor, rather than one of my girls...And after all we've been through! I remember that time you thought to challenge me to a few drinks and-""-Enough! *cough* I do not see how any of that important. I am busy; why are we here? You know I detest this area." Azusa interrupted, swiftly changing the subject. An with a giggle, Setsuna shook her head and gestured her pipe toward her counterpart.

"Straight to the point? I like that in a woman. Gets things done. " Saizomaru began, pulling up a stool to the center of the room. "Names Saizomaru; mostly for you boy; little ears'n'tail and I go way way back. I used to be a shinobi myself, but I got out of that business; You can't pay me enough to stand around watching those damn gates all day. Ain't nothing ever go down there until they do, and nobody wants to be around that mess." One of his large hands began tapping a crate nearby, pulling out a kunai from within. "The real money is in the goods. And my contacts hooked me up with something -big-. We're talking Village-changing, and I made damn sure to be first in line in the Wind Coutnry to get in on this. A Vilage aint nothin special without its Ninja, and a Ninja aint anything without their weapons. Be it steel or Jutsu." He grinned. "All this here?" He paused, gesturing to his inventory scattered around the hazy room. "This ain't nothin but convenience. The real stuff his hidden away; I got a place outside the village." He tossed the kunai at a large map hanging on one of the walls, the blade striking an otherwise unmarked location in suna's desert.

"...Unfortunately, we got a predicament. My off-site location happens to be hidden in some old tomb...And from what I can tell, it seems some kind of...something...doesn't take kindly to disturbances."</B><i></i> Azusa's alf-hearted interest faded at this point, immediately replaced with a scowl; disgust was the only thing she felt concerning this situation. <B>"Now I might have been a shinobi, but...I don't do ghost like that. Setsuna here said she'd call in a favor to secure the place, and thats were you two come in; secure my stuff. This is off the records. But Setsuna can work her magic; she'll make you some bullshit 'official' mission to make it worth your time. "Saved the village by securing countless yen worth of assets" or somethin." His grinned continued. "Heh. We just need you two to keep quiet about what you see, but your free to see what the village has got in store for it while your there. If this contract is legit, you might be lookin' at the next Daimyo." Saizo had finished his spiel.

...And Azusa was displeased. If Riyota did not have any objections to this situation, her expression certainly showed that her own were imminent.

[MFT]
 

Miroku Riyota

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Riyota shot a glare as Azusa went a teensy bit too far in her act of convincing the pair of Riyota's criminal identity. He was used to the insults of the fox, it was part of their relationship at this point. However whilst her standard insults were playful and flirtatious these were just plain mean. It was beginning to occur to Riyota that maybe he should've pursued a career in acting because it indeed seemed that Azusa had also fallen for the ruse. Riyota dug his fingernails into his hand in frustration, so far that he began to draw blood, which was quite a feat considering...well that he was Riyota.

"I'd hope sure as hell hope you don't consider me one of your girls. No need to think of me as a competitor either though, big scene's not for me. I'd rather not be in a position where everyone's waiting for me to expose my neck." Despite how little Riyota had known his biological Father, he was beginning to take on many of his speech patterns and mannerisms whilst engaging in this disguise. As the conversation continued Riyota tried to make a mental note of what had happened with those drinks...

Riyota nodded along as Saizomaru spoke to show the man he was indeed listening. Making noises of likemindedness where appropriate. Tapping his chin and tilting his head at certain intervals to prove he was taking in the information provided to him. When the briefing was finished he looked from Saizomaru to Setsuna, to Azusa. For the first time in his life Riyota was annoyed, bordering on angry with Azusa. She had dragged him down here, told him nothing, only for him to find out that she was linked with apparent criminals which she had also neglected to tell him about, and to top it all off she passive-aggressively called him out as scum despite all this.

The crazy thing was, at face value Riyota could accept that, he could do his classic Riyota thing and smile and wave it off and bow and apologise for all the things that occurred. Further in however, Riyota felt betratyed. He felt that the woman he had pledged himself to, he had pledged his love to and had her love pledged to him in return.

Did not trust him...

It was taking everything he had to suppress the growth of his cursed seal in that moment. Putting his arms behind his back and drawing a kunai quietly. He suppressed his regeneration temporarily and carved a single word into the back of his hand. Large enough for Azusa to see as he tried to catch her eye with it. 'TRUST'

"Ok, just so I'm clear. We infiltrate the...'Haunted' cave...secure this vague objective and set you on the road to this big coup you've got planned for Sand country...I thought Azusa was bringing me here for a difficult task." He spoke with false confidence. "Alright, you got it." He smiled, extending his hand to shake Saizomaru's.

Phase 1: Gain the enemy's trust
Phase whatever: Pull the rug out from under them
Phase last one: ...Profit?

Those very simple thoughts cycled through Riyota's mind as he calmly placed a hidden explosive seal on his new associate's shaking hand. (If he indeed shook.)

MFT