Ninpocho Chronicles is a fantasy setting storyline set in the World of Ninjas where feudal daimyo, clans and ninja villages all wage war on each other for money, glory or for a common goal.

Each ninja starts from the bottom and start their training as an Academy Student. From there they develop abilities akin to that of demigods as they grow in age and experience.

Along the way they gain new friends (or enemies), take on jobs and complete contracts and missions for their respective villages where their training and skill will be tested to their limits.

The sky is the limit as the blank page you see before you can be filled with countless of adventures with your character in the game.

This is Ninpocho Chronicles.

Beginning of One's Greed [S Rank]

Tatsuo

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For Yuii:

One early morning Yuii would hear a knock on her door, if opened she would see a young man carrying a scroll. “Orders from Lord Raikage, Ms. Kagetsu.” Forming a handseal the man would pop in a cloud of smoke, after she took the scroll.

The scroll itself was quite a thick scroll, with the seal of the Raikage keeping it closed. If opened, it would read.
A large monastery known for their competency in the martial arts has suddenly gone quiet. Normally they were quite xenophobic and were self sustaining. It was not uncommon for little noise to come out of that portion of the country but the newfound silence is eerie. The nearby town in which was one of the few places the monastery would conduct trade with reported that there hadn’t been a single monk seen for a two week period. A strange tradition perhaps, but maybe something more sinister.

You are to depart today at Noon sharp. Your ticket for the train is attached, to this message.

And sure it was.

In addition to yourself, Okada Kaji a Shinobi from the Leaf will be assisting you on this mission as a way to improve relations amongst the villages Sennin.

Description of Okada, Kaji:
Age: 33
Weight: 170
Height: 6'0
Eye color: Green
Hair Color: Black

For Kaji:

One early morning Kaji would hear a knock on his door, if opened hewould see a young man carrying a scroll. “Orders from Lord Raikage, Mr. Okada.” Forming a handseal the man would pop in a cloud of smoke, after he took the scroll.

The scroll itself was quite a thick scroll, with the seal of the Raikage keeping it closed. If opened, it would read.
A large monastery known for their competency in the martial arts has suddenly gone quiet. Normally they were quite xenophobic and were self sustaining. It was not uncommon for little noise to come out of that portion of the country but the newfound silence is eerie. The nearby town in which was one of the few places the monastery would conduct trade with reported that there hadn’t been a single monk seen for a two week period. A strange tradition perhaps, but maybe something more sinister.

You are to depart today at Noon sharp. Your ticket for the train is attached, to this message.

And sure it was.

In addition to yourself, Kagetsu Yuii a shinobi from the Cloud will be assisting you on this mission as a way to improve relations among the village's Sennin.

Description of Kagestu, Yuii:
Age: 28
Weight: 133
Height: 5'4
Eye color: Blue
Hair Color: Blue
 

Okada Kaji

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The mirror’s reflection said it all.

Kaji found himself standing still in the early morning hours. He was half-dressed and woefully observing his bare upper half in front of a wall-mounted body mirror, which reflected him in the same posh suite as all the days behind him. The whole room was tinted shades in shades of gold and amber as the sun was low, still on the rise for the day. The reason for his woe reflected in his eyes as he observed patchwork of gauze he spent the last hour delicately binding across half of his body. All things considered, Kaji’s physique was unchanged in shape as he surveyed himself, but there was no hiding the remorse he felt, and the pain of his new flesh still binding beneath the coverings. “I’m starting to look like one of them now” he whispered to himself. He was referring to the Lithia clan; the chosen descendants of the Hidden Oasis lizards. It was one of the many unique healing rituals of the Lithia Clan which led to Kaji’s current predicament, all in a bid to save Kaji’s life only a few days prior. It was this or death, he knew, but that didn’t stop him from the feelings of resentment in his decision to face that opponent. And to what gain?

Alas, every day began this way since that fateful contest, but today he would not have long to mope as the was a rabble on his chamber door. He declared “I’m coming,” three times, and stopped by where his midnight blue jersey was slumped over the back of a dining chair. He was hoping for an impromptu visit from Yuii, though he knew she barely had time to drop by unannounced. Still, Kaji meandered towards the door, nervous about being seen in such a sorry state, especially by the woman he adored so. His hesitation made him take so long that the impatient visitor began knocking again, perhaps unable to here Kaji call him through the insulated walls unless the he gave a shout.

“Enough with the knocking” Kaji bade the stranger as he untwisted both locks— a bit of extra security which normally would have seemed so unnecessary to Kaji. The doorway revealed a young courier shinobi who could have been no older than Tatsuo, who hurriedly provided Kaji a parchment scroll sealed with the official stamp of the Hidden Cloud. “Hmm, thank you,” he said reluctantly as the courier formed a single ram seal and vanished in blooming steam.

Kaji quickly put the moment behind him and paced around his room while unfurling the scroll. To his surprise, it appeared that the Hidden Cloud was wasting no time in putting their newfound alliance with the Leaf to work. Kaji considered that perhaps his exploits in the battle with Kaen had made their way to the top of the food chain— now they wanted to put his talents to work, perhaps as reparations to the damages dealt upon the colosseum. It was true that this was a bit soon when factoring in recent events, but Kaji was already declared back to fighting strength, and this type of investigation was right up his alley. Being assigned with the likes of Yuii sweetened the deal even more, so much that he actually began looking forward to it all.
 

Kagetsu Yuii

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Yuii watched the fiery red hues of daybreak stretch across the Kumo mountains through the glass of her balcony door. It was a rare occurrence that the Main Branch Sennin made the journey to her apartment anymore. A dispute at the gate had called her away in the early morning hours, cutting her rest short and forcing her from the warmth of her shared bed. By the time she had resolved the issue, which turned out to be nothing more than a lost passport, false dawn had begun and dashed her plan to return. She had felt like an interloper sneaking in to make a cup of tea and prepare for the day while Sunuke gently snored in his adjoining room. Her heart had moved elsewhere along with her sense of home, but Yuii had never been overly attached to the slightly dilapidated space, to begin with.

With her drink mostly finished, and a full day ahead, Yuii was beginning to resolve herself to meeting the day when there was a knock at her door. Yuii considered it strange, as she answered and received the short mission statement, that Ayumu had not waited until their usual early morning breakfast to give her this mission. It must have been an emergency, or at very least a very well paying customer, to have called for such urgency. Regardless, Yuii was gratified to have an excuse to get away awhile and ever happier that it would include such good company.

Always prepared for a last minute mission, it was a simple thing for Yuii to abandon her cup in the sink, grab one of her pre-packed bags and dress warmly for the day. Her layers of grey and black clothing weren't cute, the desire to be being alien to the blue haired woman, but this was a mission first. No one liked that Kunoichi that failed her teammate because of a wardrobe malfunction.

She toyed with the idea of meeting Kaji en route through the village from his hotel room, but there was a vague fear that she was already too late, so Yuii instead raced for the gates as the best point of interception. A quick check was all she needed to be sure he hadn't passed by, and there was even time to sort out their leaving with the gate guards to speed up the expedition.

By the time Kaji arrived she would be seated waiting by the departures gate, taking tentative sips on the burnt garbage the gate guard called coffee. Once again it was so sugar loaded that it barely counted as a beverage, but it lent explanation to Yuii's awful beverage habits. With a coy smile, she would make a big show of retrieving the mission orders out and playfully check off the description one by one, "Hmmm, Tall, dark, handsome with a come-hither smile and dreamy green eyes? Yes, I think this is an accurate description. So good of them to give me a description, otherwise I might never have found you." As elated as she was to have Kaji's company for the day, her teasing was also a chance to reflect on his condition so soon after his fight. Sacrificing a day together was an easy choice if it meant his safety. Fortunately, he seemed well enough.

Game played, she would sway to her feet and lead them past the line and off the main roadway to the steep mountainside The distance that took hours for travellers to climb up winding, rocky paths could be navigated in seconds going downwards if one was brave enough to jump. "We'll take the quick route down and have enough time to buy something for breakfast before the train arrives. The food they sell during the trip is overpriced and stale," she explained before making the first leap and devolving their conversation to warnings of loose stone, deep snow and spirited encouragement.

At their speed, it took only a fraction of the time to reach the small village at the base of Kumo's mountains whose main income source were the many shinobi that used its small station. Locals had set up small shops all along the platform, selling everything from food and drink to topographical information food and weapon care. With the next train due so soon, the crowd was thick with waiting travellers who varied from weary farmers to fully geared warriors. More often than not, one saw a weapon on even the most harmless man.

Even here she wasn't safe to show affection, not with so many shinobi around, but Yuii longed for it. Travel was freedom to be a little selfish and indulge so long as it in no way hindered the objective after all. Talk of their mission objective needed to wait for privacy too, so Yuii wallowed their time away by pointing out the 'best'(mostly sweets) stalls to eat from, buying herself a large bag of bean paste buns and explaining the many coaches about to arrive. Covert ninja joined locals in the main cars, but those in uniform were encouraged to ride in the last of the passenger carriages after a slew of incidences between them and uncomfortable civilians. Since checking out a silent monastery didn't need disguises, they too would use the back. "It's nicer", Yuii would add, " and were assured a private compartment... to prepare for the mission."

Soon enough the old steep train puffed into view, a mechanic wonder Yuii took entirely for granted. It was a quick matter to have their tickets checked and find the promised wood lined alcove that would be all theirs until reaching their destination. When the compartment doors were safely locked Yuii was finally able to indulge in a kiss. "You're far too handsome by daylight. It's criminal."
 

Okada Kaji

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Fortunately, Yuii wasn’t left waiting long for her much-anticipated rendezvous. Just a few days of wandering was all it took for Kaji to familiarize himself with the general layout of Kumogakure. In fact, Kaji had arrived moments before revealing himself to Yuii but hid behind a wall of stone some ways away. He was fighting with anxiety again and clutched his chest with a burning sensation in his heart as if he were back in the colosseum a few days prior. He was nervous as if this was only their first encounter or a blind date rather than a mission entrusted to them as a pair from the highest office possible. But, why the apprehension Kaji?

A few ticks of the clock later, Kaji appeared out of thin air, stepping out from behind a passing couple of civilians in the swarm of busy foot traffic. The pale green of his flak jacket created a stark contrast from the abundance of haze gray and other flagship hues worn by Yuii’s fellow villagers. There was a slight hobble in Kaji’s step today compared to his usual swagger; it was the only visible sign of his injury. He did a fine job of masking the rest with an emerald-green wool scarf, long sleeves, and charcoal gloves.

And just the sight of Yuii was visually stimulating to Kaji. The mere sound of her voice began lifting his melancholy, and hints of blushing gathered on his cheeks and nose. Yuii was beaming sunshine, and Kaji didn’t know her any other way since they started spending time together. Even her greeting was full of wonderful character, and flattered him to boot; oh how he missed her in the passing day. “Heh, and you look splendid this morning, Blue; I could’ve spotted you from a mile away, never mind what some scroll had to say.” His lips creased into the smile she adored as he said: “Only you could make that uniform look so damn cute.”

And then their adventure began as they set off for the first leg of their travels. Yuii took the lead of course as she was the native to the land, and Kaji appreciated being able to shadow someone else for a change. When Yuii insisted on taking a quick route to the lowlands, Kaji was eager to play a game of student and master. Her movements were impeccably agile according to Kaji’s analysis: light-footed and well balanced like a hunting cat on the prowl. Kaji followed the best he could, which complimented her, but varied slightly as he worked through the pain he felt in the process. In a fit of laughter amidst their athletics, he said “nice moves, babe… now, this is what I call a date!” Only the ache of his body kept him from full elation as they ripped through the mountainside, making quick work of it in their expert-level descent.

The foray down the mountain had visibly excited the duo, leaving them with heavy panting and rushes of adrenaline by the time they arrived at the basin village. It was obvious that the physicality they shared was triggering memories of the last time they got so busy together. But they were both tempered shinobi in public and managed to walk about casually on the path to the train station. Yuii knew where the best shops were and made the most important stop of the day; apparently, their dangerous vertical jogging was all for bean paste buns. Would she really risk it all for sweets? “Yes”, Kaji figured as he followed her around loosely like some well-trained doggo without a leash.

At some point in their wait for the train, Kaji found an elk-themed cafe stand. He ordered a pair of lattes with shots of espresso while Yuii was busy browsing elsewhere. Kaji even made sure to ask for extra helpings of sugar and whipped cream for her drink, in fear that she might reject anything less. The barista tried to hand Kaji a card warning about the dangers of diabetes, but he left it on the counter once he received the pair of lattes in travel cups.

Once noon arrived, the duo was idling by the train tracks when the massive train came barreling down the tracks. A mighty black plume rolled behind it, and the machine came to a slow yet perfected stop in the station. It was all incredibly exciting for Kaji, but he tried and failed to seem unimpressed besides Yuii, who treated the old news justly, as a regular ole’ train. It was all too much, too exciting for Kaji, who had gotten so used to the flat lifestyle of a Konoha Shinobi. His melancholy was nearly exhausted by the excitement and subtle arousal which peaked as they worked down the aisles towards their private section. The attendant then closed the pair in, and the time had come to depart.

“This is an incredible apparatus,” Kaji insisted as they were shown to their quarters. Yuii didn’t seem to have any of that on her mind though, as her bright eyes watched her man, and he soon caught her vibe. Kaji dared to act innocently and was looking around the car with intrigue when Yuii made her lunge for him. Memories of their first night were quickly defeated in favor of a new reckless moment as passion commanded them. “Oh, this is what we’re doing” Kaji jested as he pulled her closer into his grasp, over his lap. Of course, he was game for it. Swapping tongues was on the agenda firstly, followed by wicked giggling echoing out from their tiny corner of the rail car. “You’re irresistible… If that train took even a minute longer… I swear… we would have… picked a bathroom somewhere.”

// WC976 //
 

Kagetsu Yuii

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There was an awkward moment of hesitation as Yuii mistook his feigned innocence as disinterest and second guessed her motives, but the immediately following affection put her mind at ease. Kaji's breathy assessment of their desire for one another further fueled her desire, though the idea of making use of a bathroom was far outside her growing sphere of imagination. "I didn't know that was an option!" like tables, walls and all the other array of surfaces that could now make her blush, her knowledge of recreational intimacy had been very limited until Kaji. It was hard to explain to one's boss why she'd turned into a cherry tomato because he'd innocently leant against a door frame in a familiar way. A toilet struck her as being unsanitary, and probably not on her growing list of acceptable places, but Yuii understood the meaning. Being so close to Kaji and being unable to touch him, even in casual forms of affection drove her mad. It was the greatest tease neither of them wanted to participate in and both suffered through.

The train lurched roughly into motion, eliciting another round of laughter as they fought off their outer layers of seasonal clothing between touches. "It's your first time on a train, right?" Yuii asked rhetorically, her face stretching into a shameless grin "I thought I could make it memorable." Her eyes flicked downwards, betraying intent before her body followed suit.

---

After much experimentation, they found the most comfortable way to complete the train journey was seated lengthwise across the seats with Yuii curled mostly atop. All but the warmest layers that had been strewn across small room had been regathered and loosely adorned for the sake of warmth. The little vent pumping out heat at the base of the seats added just enough warmth to keep them from seeing their breath and encouraged the sharing of body heat. Sometime after the postcoital chatter, Yuii had blissfully snaked an arm around Kaji's side to the scales lining his back and traced them absently with gentle touches. "Sometimes, when they're loading the cargo cars, rats get on board, " Yuii explained, half asleep, "one got into the heating vent during a trip from Raiden's eye to the Spine. It was making an awful racket squeaking and scraping. Oniyuri couldn't stand it, she screamed that we were letting the food win and tore half the car apart until she caught it and ate it whole. Since then, she isn't allowed on trains and I've mostly done these trips alone. I like the company, but it's going so quickly when I don't want it to end."

As if by mere mention conjured their stop, their station was called as the next stop, "So soon," her grimace conveyed her joy over having such a short trip, "There's always a break down when you're in a rush and never one when you want to linger." It occured to her then that they hadn't spoken much about the reason they were travelling. The mission had seemed so far away when they'd boarded and now Yuii was here at a loss. There wasn't much TO say, however. This area of Lightning wasn't her expertise, and the mission summons had been light in information. Most likely they would need to draw out information from the locals- those who had requested the monastery be checked- then proceed onwards.

Wiggling regretfully away to fix her uniform and find her boots, "It's been a very long time since I've had a partner on a mission," Yuii sighed, crawling beneath the centre table to retrieve her scarf, "so please, tell me if I'm being dismissive or... anything. It isn't on purpose, I'm just sort of used to winging it." With that ominous admission, the train lurched to a stop, and she tried to look happy while leading the way out.
 

Tatsuo

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As the couple made their way to the exit of the train, they were met with a small entourage of horsemen. They were soldiers of one of the local warlords. "Lady Kagetsu.." the leading man nodded, a tall man with dark black hair and a bellowing voice greeted her. "We are very pleased to have you here." The three soldiers got off their horses, bowing down to Yuii. The leading man then extended a hand to shake Kaji's. "A Leaf Ninja? Raiden truly blesses us this day with talent." the man would say offering a hand for a shake. "It pleases my heart that the Raikage offered us such great ninja." The man offered a final smile, before getting back onto his horse. "Shall we continue?" The man asked without really expecting an answer.

The town they arrived in was a very small village, more of a military outpost if anything. Weapons were everywhere, every man over eighteen seemed to be a soldier. Pikes, swords and axes were out as one would flash a wallet or a watch. The whole town seemed to have an uneasy air, as if everyone was ready to fight. After a few drinks, most of them probably would be. The man leading the pack turned his attention back to the two shinobi in his company, "Stick close, we've had multiple reports of potential raids. Everyone is on edge, just don't make eye contact, especially with the drunks. Despite that I am sure you two could take out the whole military outpost if you wished." the man chuckled again, his voice echoing through the tight alley way they were walking through.

After their short trip they arrived at a large tent in which the soldiers got off their horses, tying them down to a wooden post near the front. The leader of the party went into the tent and came out after a few minutes, the leader then looked back to Yuii and Kaji, "Issa Shikada will see you now." He would open the flap of tent, giving them a glimpse inside. There were military documents spread across the table. In the center of the table was a large map of the Lightning Country and surrounding countries. Small stone blocks laid across the map, most likely being markers for soldiers.

The Issa looked to the two, the man was no taller than Yuii. He had dark black hair and light skin, his hands were soft and clean. His hair was swept to one side and seemed to be kept down with a sizable amount of gel. The man's voice betrayed his appearance, he was quite loud. It was actually surprising how much noise this one man could produce for being so small. Making his way over to Yuii and Kaji he squinted as if he was surveying every detail about the two. "So this is what they sent?" he said with almost a sneer. The man walked past Yuii before looking up to Kaji. "A Leaf ninja? Has the Raikage fallen so far that his own ninja can't handle domestic issues?" The man said laughing to himself before rolling his eyes. "Whatever, I care not for the dealings of shinobi." As the man made his way back to the table he took a small pointer and began slapping different parts of the map. "This is the Roringu Sanda, the monastery in question. You two are to check on these monks. I am sure the damn monks there are too busy praying to some god they forgot to eat. Anyways, here they are." he said following a road with this pointer. "Do you have any questions? Do I need to hold your hands more?" the man said trying to insult the two.
 

Okada Kaji

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Perhaps it was the infatuation they shared that distracted the duo from the seriousness of their mission. Normally, Kaji would have spent the morning gathering information, drilling any possible informant for some lead about his targets and mission. But it appeared as if a different kind of drilling was in order this morning. “How lewd” were the words of a train attendant who was about to knock on the thin privacy door slid over the space shared by Yuii and Kaji. The attendant was carrying a tray with hot tea and accessories, but quickly carried on to the next car when she heard the mischievous sounds coming from within. Just as Yuii said so appropriately, it would be quite a memorable first train ride for Kaji. The coming mission was stowed away like luggage in an overhead compartment, in favor of an opportunity for some afternoon delight.

She was the most pleasant distraction to him, or so Kaji realized as he struggled to consider their mission, which must have been incredibly important for these two to be paired together. So far, Kaji and Yuii rarely talked about work, and matters of affection and longing were usually the first priority when they found the time to be together. After all, Kaji wouldn’t be in Kumogakure for much longer, and Yuii was practically shackled to her duties as a Sennin. Kaji considered her as she spun a yarn about the time Oniyuri nearly tore the rail car apart; he almost missed the realization that Oniyuri was, in fact, not human. Kaji remained on his back, laying comfortably as Yuii untwined from him and began preparing to disembark. The cabin was so small that it would have been a challenge for them both to get dressed, so Kaji merely watched eagerly as Yuii fixed her appearance back to standard. When she asked him to be honest about the mission, Kaji did voice a concern that plagued him thus far: “now that you mention it, something about this Op just doesn’t sit well with me,” he admitted. He then sat upright, creating a crunch in his tight abdomen, which was recently sewn back together. “Nothing you’ve done, though.” He insisted with a soft, encouraging grin. “It’s just— this isn’t some case of seasonal fasting or a retreat that might normally cut off an entire monastery off from the outside world... Two weeks is a lot of time. I sincerely doubt that we’re heading all the way out here just to file a progress report.” Kaji had a grim speculation forming, but it surely couldn’t have been what he was thinking. Odds were a band of raiders probably caused some trouble there, or religious zealots; the kinds of things he had seen before.

A short time later, the pair were back on their grind and stepping off the train, only to be encountered by a welcome party sent to retrieve them. The three henchmen represented the local principality according to their garments, and they knew their nobles, apparently. Kaji wondered just how prominent the Kagetsu family was once the trio of henchmen began their heavy bows. Even Kaji trailed slightly when they walked together, as to not draw suspicion, and maintain their distinction between classes. No kind of jealousy came from Kaji as he accepted eager handshakes from the welcoming party, who became just as excited to have him once the sunlight bounced off the silvery leaf pendant on his vestments. “The honor is mine, I aim to serve” he answered.

With the guidance of their escorts, the two shinobi were brought directly to the small village, which served a military garrison in the area. Soldiers were loitering in every nook and cranny, cracking the seals on casks of liquor and carrying around dangerous weapons like playthings. Despite both he and his partner having renown of sorts for their prowess as shinobi, Kaji didn’t treat the warning lightly when their escort warned of potential unrest. That slight hint opened Kaji to speculation of one of his previous theories, and he glanced at Yuii, wondering if she made a similar connection.

The henchmen practically rushed Lady Kagetsu and her Hunter comrade into a tent. They announced the name of the man awaiting them as if to indicate importance. Kaji wasn’t all that impressed though: he was more interested in the schematics and plans strewed out across the table.

Rolling 1d20+5 Perception Check: 24
Using Snapshot to save results precisely to memory.


He couldn’t help but take a quick glimpse at the maps and markers until that stubby Issa Shikada made his presence known. He was a boisterous sort, using personality to make up for his lack of stature. He had nothing but venom to offer Kaji, and didn’t even address Yuii as he slung his dirt, and smacked the table. “Roaring Thunder” Kaji repeated the name back, deciphering the translation and contemplating the positions of the markers on the map, which could have represented anything from unit locations to priority targets and asset locales.

When Issa asked if the duo had any questions, Kaji phased the little man out for a moment and looked to Yuii. Kaji was leaned against the table with both palms flat, focused on analyzing a poorly charted military strategy. “What do you think, Blue?” He paused a beat to hear Yuii's insight, hoping her observations would complement his own. Kaji then turned his attention back to Issa, and asked “your men mentioned a raiding problem… when’s the last time you had an encounter with the band of raiders, and do your men have tabs on where their camp can be found?”

WC932
 

Kagetsu Yuii

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The particulars of their mission bothered Yuii as well. She was unable to voice her concerns, however, as an unexpected escort was awaiting their arrival. As they ran through greetings, Yuii was left mulling over the oddities of their mission as well as her own stupidity for putting carnal desire first. As a lover, Yuii had been generous but as a mission partner, she was off to a bad start.

The bowing and titles made her sigh, and reflexively she corrected them, "Just Yuii is fine." Kaji's immediate warm welcome pulled a smile to the troubled woman's face, however. It was good to see her countrymen being open to the shinobi of other lands. After so many wars in the last century and the waves of refugees Lightning had seen from the southern lands, they were as likely to have been spat at. As far as relation improvement went, this was a good sign.

Their walk through the little outpost village compounded her earlier worries. There had been no mention of military movement in this area with the mission brief. A glaring problem when all patrons of Kumogakure were compelled by contract to state any and all known dangers or risk factors within the area. Military campaigning and, as she came to learn as they travelled through the well-armed rabble, raiding problems were definitely on that list. The fact that their own chain of command warned the shinobi pair about their own men was troublesome too. Yuii pondered the new information and shared a meaningful look with Kaji as they were finally lead to the tent of their commander.

Unsurprising, the 'warlord' they were brought to looked to have never held a weapon in his life. One of the side effects of near constant conflict until the last decade was the death of many of the nobilities' first and second children. This one was probably scraped from the bottom of the barrel. A fifth or sixth son that may have been destined for a monastery himself in peaceful times.

The balls on the small statured windbag were amazing and Yuii was torn between laughing and breaking the man's arm. From their entrance, he'd managed to snub her, insult Kaji and insinuate the Raikage was weakening with barely a breath between. Unfortunately, the rude greeting was not uncommon amongst nobility like him. Something about being around actual power made the Daimyo's dogs go barking mad without any bite to back it up.

Kaji wasn't outwardly offended, so she strived to be the same. "Odd a domestic matter like this requires shinobi at all," her eyes traced over the route, then the rest of the map as she tried to recall the politics of this area of Lightning. If it was regional issues between the vassals of a Daimyo, then that would explain why they were being hired over monks and not raiders. Strictly speaking, shinobi weren't allowed to be hired on such matters without the direct permission of the Daimyo himself.

She wanted to ask WHY they were being hired to look in on the monks at all. Why were a bunch of monks important enough for the substantial amount they would have needed to shell out for shinobi? Why hadn't they sent a couple soldiers to knock on the doors? Why was this entire mission unsettling? Sadly, given the lord's manners and dismissive nature she doubted he would be forthcoming with answers. "We need to know if the raiders will be a problem on our travels, of course." Yuii added atop Kaji's question instead, "Also, have any of the locals attempted to make contact with the monks, or is the road that dangerous?"

Depending on his answers, they could be on their way.
 

Tatsuo

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The warlord grunted, looking to the pair of shinobi. "No, there's been no one going to that area because we can't afford to lose the manpower here. The road itself is probably safe and of course you can leave now, did you think I would hold your hands?" he said, before waving his hand in a dismissive gesture. The small entourage which had accompanied them earlier would've led them to the outskirt of the town. They would find a small beaten path but wide enough for a cart. The weather was nice today so there was good visibility especially with the sun overhead. They had little worries about getting ambushed even if the sides were lined with a thick brush. The path had a few stones in it as if it was at one point a more important road but perhaps because of the small conflicts that had been going on in this area resulted in less distribution of resources to things like roads.
 

Okada Kaji

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Kaji glared down at the stunted warlord, still attentive as he struggled to remain respectable to the little toad of a man. To be the one who called the duo of shinobi out to his region, he was being suspiciously sparse with information. Normally, such an apparent coward would be a bit more helpful. Usually, Kaji’s clients would ask him to handle every possible threat their money could buy: from removing the vermin in their cellars to walking neighborhood drunks home from the pub to stamping out gang activity, et cetera. As a career ANBU, Kaji was trained in detecting lies and deceit, and this little toady warlord was hiding something. Kaji could read it on his face; the needless perspiration caused by anxiety, sleepless circles beneath his eyes, and constant nervous ticks. While he did consider addressing it, he knew that the reputation of both the Leaf and Cloud hung in the balance against the Warlord’s brass and word.

Kaji battled back, sourly mocking the man, “No, we surely don’t want you to hold our hands,” and made a sudden movement— he reached a hand into his flack jacket and revealed a black marker. “But we would not have been called out here if it wasn’t something serious. You can keep your pride, but if there’s something you need to update us on, at some point, give this frequency to your radiomen.” Kaji wrote down the frequency to their headsets on the Warlord’s regional map in a huge size, too big to be ignored or forgotten. “Hmph,” he added, stiffly. “Now, are you finished, or are you done? We should get going to the monastery, Commander Shikada; if we run into any surprises, we’ll be sure to let you know.” Kaji turned a cold shoulder to the wily militant and took heed of Yuii's reaction as he began to make his way through the exit. Any longer in there and Kaji might have crossed the line as a so-called diplomat.

wc340
 

Kagetsu Yuii

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Yuii watched on as Kaji took the lead in calling the warlord out on the unusual situation. There was no need to echo her partner's sentiments, and Yuii wasn't sure she could say much more without offending the noble. This was precisely why she had told Ayumu not to give her work where ass kissing was necessary. People like this were utterly exhausting and another example of thinking one's lineage gave them the right to talk down to people.

Wants aside, Yuii clenched her jaw and maintained a calm posture. It was like playing good cop bad cop except the good cop was pretty much being ignored. "Thank-you for your time, Lord Issa. I expect we'll be prompt in completing your request. Do let us know of any additional information." She gave their employer a proper bow, choosing to be polite despite how repulsive he was. There was no use in staying any longer thankfully, so Yuii met Kaji's gaze and signalled with a nod for their departure.

"Ugh, I hate the southern lords. They're all rude like that or so fake you might as well be speaking to a wall." The complaint bubbled up once they were alone, having festered as the were escorted out of the tiny village. She kicked at a stone, sending it flying, and wished the tree it hit could have been their employer. "It's likely that their raids are a territory matter. Under our current shogun's order's, we're not to take any contracts from the Daimyo or their vassals for disputes unless given his express permission. Lots of bad blood left still after the civil war." Kaji has hardly made a fool of himself, though. Lord Issa had been either too rude to be helpful, or evasive about details of the surrounding area. Giving him a final chance to give them more information was the right thing to do. The entire situation just seemed so off.

"It just feels too simple, doesn't it? I haven't been called out on a non-emergency in months." Yuii gave her mop of hair a frustrated tug and surveyed the area with a scowl, "If this is just Ayumu pulling a prank I'll have his balls. I swear it. Should I set a decoy to be safe, or do we go for speed?" For the former, she would create a clone and mirror clone of herself and Kaji to set on the road and they could keep an eye on from cover. For the later, she would Summon Oniyuri with a touch to her neck and offer her feline friend as a mode of transport.
 

Okada Kaji

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Once their exchange with Commander Shikada was complete, the duo of shinobi were released back into the wide old world. Finally exiting that tent was comparable to twin birds finding freedom from a cage. With the previous band of soldiers to their backs, Kaji and Yuii were methodically escorted to the village’s border, where they were left to their own devices. Once they were finally left alone, Yuii aired her frustrations from their encounter with the petty military man, named Issa. “You’re right; I have seen more military tact out of one of my students playing shogi than I saw in that entire encampment… According to his map, Shikada’s troops are wasting their resources being holed up in that village— idling, letting their enemies come to them. ‘That was nothing more than a shit show” he added, disappointedly.

And so, the trail ahead of them was an elevating one that curved around the mountainside. The path was laid with fine masonry, most likely crafted by the monks themselves over the ages. The mountain was as wide as it was tall and offered room for heavy cover via tall trees and untamed bushes.

“I believe we should stay off the path and make our way to the monastery with as little commotion as possible; if there are enemies expecting us, we’re already at a disadvantage.” Kaji raised a hand and cupped against his chin with the other perched on his waist, full of contemplation. “Perhaps it is time you introduce me to your feline friend, Oniyuri… Surely, the hunting cat’s refined senses will come in handy” he said with a confident smile, finally finding an occasion to pursue his curiosity in Yuii's tigress ally. “If danger is lurking around us, I’m certain she’ll find it first.”

Once the couple found an agreement on their method of approach, they’d head off to the races. For the most part, this mountain like a peaceful setting, free of the common denizens an adventurer might expect when roaming wild highlands. This insisted that the monks of the monastery probably kept the peace, as only the occasional peaceful creature was found grazing in the tall brush. There was the random deer with a calf, rabbits, a pack of stray billy goats ripping through a grassy patch, and other non-threatening creatures, all serving as distractions to Oniyuri more than anything. It would most likely take the tiger’s best behavior to keep the duo on track to their target, but Kaji followed along with Yuii, confident in their feline companion.

Stalking through the wilds, the tiger came and went from her human allies, and appeared atop a rocky outcropping with her ears flattened, and making a low growl. “She’s found something,” Both Kaji and Yuii would know in an instant. Kaji led their movements through the darkest shadows of the forested mountainside, using his innate abilities to soften footfalls and move stealthily as the tigress had found a small band of travelers making a commotion along the laid path. A total of three men wearing dingy rags and rusty weapons were stopping on the road, dealing with a fourth person— an apparent prisoner in the center of their pack. The prisoner was a young woman, no older than her early 20’s in appearance. She wore a bright orange and yellow gi, with her arms bound behind her back with rope. The woman was clearly a monk from her appearance, and resilient, as she kept resisting the crude pummeling the thugs were issuing her. The scuffle began with her exhaustedly swinging a kick across the face of one captor, but they easily took advantage of her already battered state and took her to the ground with a few hard-hitting blows of their own. One thug wailed on her with kicks to the sternum, while another saw to the first who almost blacked out from the monk’s well-placed strike.

“Good job, Oniyuri” Kaji whispered, exalting the cat from afar as he crept up behind the trees. He then held up a hand, signaling Yuii to spread out from his position and find a favorable angle for her attack. He knew she would not need to enter so closely given her specialty, not with Kaji and Oniyuri staging for direct entries. Kaji’s scimitar was already drawn and ready to sing through his foes. Mere bandits would be hard-pressed to survive the ambush surrounding them now: they were going to pay dearly. A sudden roar from the tiger preempted their assault and echoed across the road. The sounds struck fear into the bandits and froze them in place, stopping the beating at once… it was the cue to attack!
 

Kagetsu Yuii

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Yuii nodded curtly in agreement and surveyed their path ahead. The opulence of the roadway was surprising and further made her question the reluctance of their employer to handle just 'checking on some monks' by himself. Surely the monastery was quite wealthy if they could put so much time and energy into a road? A man like Shikada had struck her as the type to happily pillage if the monks had met great misfortune.

"Okay," she agreed again, conceding to Kaji's good sense. Yuii nipped the end of her finger then touched the small bead of blood to the tiny mark on her neck. There was nothing flashy about Oniyuri's arrival, the tigress simply appeared from behind Yuii, like an appiration turned flesh. The great cat, shoulder height next to Yuii, settled on her haunches and fixed Kaji with an unimpressed stare that all cats had mastered. Yuii's hand moved and scratched her feline friend's ears without needing to check for her arrival.

::What do you want?:: Oniyuri purred, half closing her eyes as Yuii's hands found a particular itchy spot on the back of her skull.

Yuii smiled sheepishly at Kaji, as if to excuse the lack of introductions, then slipped to one knee in front of the tigress"Yuri, Could you scout ahead for us? There are raiders around and there might be an ambush. Pretty please?" She begged sweetly, digging both hands into Oniyuri's thick striped coat. The great cat rumbled happily, leaning heavily into Yuii's fingers, until the Yui''s request sunk in.

::Do I look like a common dog?:: she growled, shifting her weight with irritation, ::You still owe me for the bears and golem, and transporting the Kogami brat. I want double or I eat lizard.:: Oniyuri didn't wait to for a reply, but took to the trees to meet Yuii's request.

Yuii gave Kaji another smile and winked. "No, I don't think I'd allow that," she assured n a sing-song voice, "I don't like to share."

They crept after Oniyuri, barely keeping sight of her orange mass. It was almost comic that they were sneaking through such peaceful settings. With each animal that passed, barely disturbed by the pressence of humans, Yuii knew poor Onyuri was drooling behind clenched teeth. The wildlife didn't even know to run from her.

A distraction arrived in the form of a roadside attack. Yuii knew before Kaji spoke that Oniyuri had found something. She nodded, drew her scarf up tight around her mouth, and stalked after Kaji. The path he took was better than she would have picked, and Yuii found herself silently admiring her partners stealth skills. It was all she could do to keep up as they came upon the blood boiling scene of the monk and her belligerent stackers.

Yuii made a low growl in her throat not unlike her feline friend. It took all her training to keep from rushing out to confront the soldiers, and put a stop to their abuse. Kaji signalled for her to find position, and Yuii nodded once again, made a hand signal like a claw binding her fingers then slipped away slipped away.

Once out of sight, Yuii would sink into the earth and on Oniyuri's roar pull ass many of the monk attackers into the ground as she could manage while Kaji took care of them above. It was a simple attack, but effective if they wanted to learn more from the soldiers. Meanwhile, above, Oniyuri would put herself between the soldier and the monk, taking hands and feet for snacks if any dared attack her.
 

Okada Kaji

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By the time the three bandits recovered from the stunning roar of Oniyuri, they were the targets of swift measure made by Yuii and Kaji. The one striking at the beaten Monk was the first to taste the wrath of the shinobi ambush, as Yuii used an impressive technique with origins in Kaji’s homeland of Tsuchi no Kuni: the earth softened, and with a hand grasping, the attacker was pulled down to his knees with the ground still solid around him. This first man had a terrifying experience, as Yuii's earth decapitation technique was delivered flawlessly, and the aggressive bandit was up to his collar in hard soil. His head resembled the ugliest cantaloupe come to life, bobbing and stifled as six hundred pounds of angry tigress stepped between him and his last victim. The bared fangs of Oniyuri left the sunken man soiling himself underground, never so terrified in all his days.

The second and third became targets of the earth sinking maneuver as well, but not before being intercepted by the whirling scimitar of Kaji Okada. Restraint was often a greater mark of expertise than the ability to slay an opponent, and few shinobi knew how to target an opponent with debilitating, but non-fatal blows like Kaji. He made quick work of the two bandits he arrived between, immediately ham-stringing one with a carving slice behind his thigh. The blow caused him to stumble backward before Yuii fed him to the hungry earth. The poor bastard was spilling blood onto the cobblestone before he became a part of it, and his hand plunged in as he tried to grasp the ground for support. Sounds of guttural panicking filled the air.

Kaji parried the rusty blade of the third rogue with the flat of his scimitar, and Kaji leaned in to deliver an upward palm strike with his opposite hand, so effective that a tooth was jarred free from the receiver’s mouth. The bandit groaned, until Kaji spun around, delivering a swift-footed kick to the sternum that forced the air from his lungs, and bent the foe backward. With his feet were sunken into the ground, so the bandit lost his center of gravity, and collapsed onto his back, stuck like a turtle. The blood and spit filling his throat left him gagging with his hands wrapped around his neck. The earth then finished absorbing the third bandit as well, until he was only visible enough so that he could breathe. All three bandits found themselves bound so tightly that they couldn’t speak, and just struggled to breathe at the mercy of their captors.

Satisfied with their results, Kaji returned Eelspine to its sheath and revealed a handkerchief he used to wipe the bandit’s blood off of his hand. He paced towards the monk, who was still doubled over on the ground but stopped short of Oniyuri, who vigilantly stood between all who came towards the girl. While Kaji was more than just some ally to Yuii, he sensed some protective distrust from the tigress; after it all, it was just primal instinct at work. Like Yuii, Kaji humbled himself before Oniyuri and minded both his actions and words while in striking distance. Cats were temperamental creatures, he knew, and if Yuii handled her respectfully, Kaji had to work twice as hard to earn her respect. He thought to try for humor, and jokes about Yuii’s good pussy came to mind first, but Oniyuri did not seem like the type to appreciate such a comparison. Instead, Kaji chose to challenge her barrier of tough personality and graced the tigress with a kind stroke, similarly to how he watched Yuii pet her before. “Yuii talks about you all the time; it’s nice to meet the famous Oniyuri for myself... You might terrify them, but to me, you’re just a big cutie. Thank you for helping us do some good today.” Led by his natural affinity for wildlife, Kaji didn’t show an ounce of apprehension towards the tigress and touched her so expertly that she might have confused him for a long-time bearer of the pact. Pleased that he was successful, at least enough to not loose the hand, Kaji looked to Yuii with a happy smirk. However, he couldn’t show them affection for long, as groans from the beaten monk reminded him of their mission at hand.

Kaji left from the tigress’ side and went to aid the victim of the beating, who seemed to have already received a worse beatdown than what the three urchin rogues could have possibly given her. The previous savagery left her scared of even the likes of Kaji as he came to inspect her injuries. “May the Five have mercy” Kaji whispered a prayer as he quickly noticed the multitude of bruises lining her athletic frame and the torn wardrobe which revealed them all. “Its ok, its ok, we’re here to help,” Kaji told her, taking her resisting hand with his own with a comforting grip. She was but a young woman according to his assessment, and probably a student at the monastery, Kaji figured by the lack of decoration and detail in her gi and armaments. “Hey Blue, she’s hurt pretty bad,” Kaji told Yuii, though he knew she could see it plainly for herself upon closer inspection. “You’ve got some broken ribs, and some very intense bruising in the abdomen… I’ve never seen something this bad without breaking the skin.” Her waistline was exposed and a had a myriad of colors from extreme bruising. The blood running from her lips indicated internal bleeding, and the glossy look in her eyes was a familiar one to Kaji; without immediate aid, the monk would not be long for this world.

“The camp and the monastery are too far— we’re going to have to treat her ourselves. Let’s get her out of the road and do something for her before it’s too late.” Kaji motioned to gently take a hold of the victim, slung one of her arms over his shoulder, and scooped her up by the bottom of her thighs, and small her back, attempting not to worsen her injuries any further. The devastated monk fell limp in his arms, probably passed out from the pain, but luckily they weren’t far from a clearing where first aid could be attempted without the risk of encountering more bandits. As for the last three rogues, Kaji wouldn’t speak of them again, and it was solely Yuii’s call whether to finish, spare, or set them free. While neither Kaji nor Yuii considered themselves to be medics, together they might be able to stave off death’s call from the badly beaten monk. Just what was going on at the Monastery of Soaring Thunder?

/// Checkpoint Reached.
Exiting Thread. Continuing Story in Part Two. ///
 

Kagetsu Yuii

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Time below the earth gave Yuii time to ebb the rage that the scene above had created in her. The malicious blows were nothing short of torture. They were making a game of killing the monk and taking sadistic enjoyment from their pursuits. It made them sub-human. No better than revolting demons or child killing cultists. Humans who preyed on the weak and helpless had no right to life. With each one that she caught and encased in the earth, she moved away from the temptation to end them.

The first target Yuii chose was the luckiest of the trio. He avoided the expert strikes delivered to his comrades through Kaji's Eelspine. It was unfortunate the Yuii missed Kaji's display of technical skill, it might have consoled her more to know they were bleeding, but Oniyuri was available to witness each debilitating strike as she stood between the quickly incapacitated abusers and their prey. The bullied big-cat grew aggressive when faced with creatures facing the same abuse she endured from her larger brethren. The other Tigers made no attempt to hide their disdain for their smallest and weakest. She, like Yuii, took great satisfaction in the fate of the attackers and the blood on the ground.

Yuii rose back to the surface of the earth just as Kaji faced the far more daunting task of getting past the on guard tigress. She stood back and watched, taking the seconds it took for Kaji to reduce her feline from vengeful blockade to a purring pussy cat to stretch the kink out of her back that stalking through the forest always aggravated. Eye contact and confidence were a sure disarmer even for an intelligent cat like Oniyuri. I myriad of jokes came to mind about cats and Kaji's touch, but the situation was too dire with their rescued monk and gasping assailants.

Yuii sucked air between her teeth at the sight of the poor girl. The sight was made worse by the lack of blood, as her body bled into itself. "Agreed all around," she said, uncertain either place would have better care for the woman even if they were close enough. Unfortunately, Yuii's ability in healing stopped at superficial bruising and would be no help to the girl. Oniyuri, on the other hand, could be of some use.

"I'll be right there,"

Oniyuri had been making a game of terrorising the melon heads and was disappointed when Yuii gestured for her to follow after Kaji. "I don't eat rotten meat," the feline rumbled amidst, their gasps for breath and wordless prayers for mercy. One got the sense that she was pouting, or the closest equivalent to that a tiger could manage, as she stalked after Kaji.

Once they were gone, Yuii broke three small branches the length of a forearm off the roadside foliage and forced each to bite the ends. They were snivelling and cowering like they expected her to shove the sticks through their throats, but she didn't think they deserved that quick a death. "Dig yourself out," she said calmly, leaving them to make their own fate and catch up with Kaji.


~Exiting Thread. Continuing Story in Part Two~