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.

Private Soon May the Wellerman Come

Saitou Rei

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What a day it had been; a drink was going to be necessary if Rei hoped to get through the rest of the office clerk encounters that stood between her and a good night's rest. She likely wouldn't have many of those for the next several days, and she intended to take advantage of the golden opportunity of a real bed. On the plus side, it looked like she and her company had arrived in the Susukino District at the right time: it was late enough that they'd be able to find a decent bar open, but early enough that the plaza wouldn't yet be overly crowded with shinobi looking to live a little before their morning shift or to forget what had happened during their last.

Passing the memorial statue of the Dawnbringer, Rei huffed a quiet laugh through her nose. "You know, I used to think that sounded pretty ideal: getting swept up to the heavens and all." Pausing for a moment to consider the worn stone face with empty eyes, she'd shake her head before continuing on to their destination. "Recently been thinking though, that it has to be really hard on the ones left behind."

Though she had been the one to suggest a drink, truth was Rei knew fairly little about what places offered the best selections. Most of what she drank came out of a flask, and anything tasted good when you were huddled around a fire in the frigid mountain climate offered in the broader Lightning Country. Unless Kaji had a suggestion or preference, the Nanjirou would lead them toward a small structure that she had frequented during her infrequent home assignments. It wasn't much to look at compared to some of the fancier eateries they'd passed on the way, but the place was quiet, clean enough and affordable enough for her to cover a guest on her budget. She had done the inviting, after all.

The pair was greeted by a rather large, bald and gruff-looking bartender with a surprisingly warm smile. Taking a seat at the bar, Rei quickly ordered her go-to. "Rum and coke for me, and whatever my friend is having. Thanks." Pulling a coin from a zippered pouch on her side and setting it on the counter, she turned to Kaji as they waited. "I'm Rei, by the way. Don't think I said before. Thank you again for your assistance back there; it really would have been quite the headache if I had ended up stuck here any longer than I needed to be, especially over some office clerk's whim."

Drinks arriving, the woman raised her glass to cheers the Captain. "A belated congratulations, on your retirement. I understand it's been awhile, so I can't help but wonder what takes you south - if you don't mind my asking?" Raising the amber liquid to her lips, curious eyes studied the older man. She liked his vibe, so even if her youthful musings went unanswered today she could at least be satisfied with just simple conversation over a drink.



Private Thread: Requesting Kaji; Siu welcome.
Continued from
the passport office.
 
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Okada Kaji

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The fresh powder of a week-long snowfall wasn’t enough to cover up the countless memories that flooded back to Kaji Okada as he set his eyes on the streets of Susukino. It was only the cold that kept bringing Kaji back to the present; well, that and the crunch of not one but a pair of boots treading the frosted cobblestone. His acquaintance was leading him to a tavern of her choosing and Kaji did like the mystery in that. A less worldly version of him would have been wary at the prospect, but his instincts thought Rei's intentions to be honest. Rather, he suspected that there was some unspoken bond between them that he had yet to recognize. Just in case it wasn’t something easily discussed he pocketed the notion and simply enjoyed her company for the time being. These strange years may have brought kinder times to the City Built on Clouds, but they also came with countless questions.

It was practically customary to wind up in front of that old statue of Raiden: dignified in his depiction but covered in pigeon shit. Kaji leered at it; in fact, he kept a disdain for the father of the storm ever since his tenure in the Land of Lightning began. When Rei broke their silence with consideration for the cost of one’s ascent, Kaji shifted his attention to her thoughtfully. To be in the prime of her life and contemplating what laid in waiting beyond it. Or perhaps, he thought, she had known enough peril in her life as a shinobi that an afterlife truly sounded preferable— it always did, but there was always the cost of what they’d leave behind. The metaphor seemed bitter when he reconsidered the meaning and those recent times…
“Well, if the ancient texts are true— Raiden’s will isn’t to be defied” Kaji replied earnestly, and maybe a little woefully. “Therefore, if it is the dawn father’s will that we go— or stay— then it must inherently be the best outcome for those who remain in our stead.” As a living relic of a time gone past, the old ninja had an idea of where this was going and even felt a bit pressed by the insinuation that it might have been better wherever his generation had gone all those years ago. “The divine spark of Raiden is as inspiring by the light it brings as it is devastating from the fires that burn beneath it. Like our lives, that spark is brief and we live to chase it— be that the inspiration or...” he stopped, placing a cap on his perceived tangent before he spoiled the mood.

For all the locales at their disposal, Kaji was surprised at Rei's selection. Her taste in taprooms helped frame her nature well. On their surface, small and quiet places seemed apt for intimate conversation. For shinobi intuitive to their trade, those places meant fewer corners to watch and heads to count. Of course, fewer patrons meant better attention at the bar— all in all a genius plan.

By the time his companion had prompted him to choose, Kaji was eyeing the casks lining the back wall. True to his nostalgia he said, “how about a mulled Cirrus Porter?” And as the bartender practiced their craft, Rei introduced herself by name and reminded him of the day’s predicament and the scoundrel known as Reo.
“I don’t know what possessed that clerk to act so bizarrely,” said Kaji in a concerned tone. “You know, Rei... before the lunge I felt sure that he was under some kind of manipulation… that someone was pulling his strings; in the end, he really was just an asshole. “An academy student could have put up more of a fight in their first week of school.” When the bartender handed him the flagon he paused to appreciate the mouthfeel of the warm foamy ale and complex spicy notes on the draw. In truth, he was conflicted about Reo and what his presence in the Raikage’s hallowed tower meant to the village. To the notion that Rei might have been held from her journey by the likes of Reo, Kaji kept his mouth shut and simply nursed his flagon a bit farther.

“South?” Kaji was grinning at the question posed by his new friend opposite the second glass on the bar. “Well, I had to jot down a quest and locale in order to get a passport… It’s never enough to say abroad, or, to get some ice cream. It just so happens that it’s quite difficult to get around the southern seaboard, no matter the time of year. So, anyone tasked with looking for a lost old man will have a hard time digging up definitive evidence of just where he is or isn’t… I mean— the stuff about rumors of ill-omen weather endangering the seas are true, but that’s nothing new, and sure ain’t going anywhere.” He took a pause to have a long draw from his drink until he needed another. “After all, isn’t a bit of free time the point of retirement?” He watched Rei closely, wondering how a shinobi who seemed to play it straight might perceive such a dereliction of duty, and from a figure of esteem like Kaji. Curious, he pressed, asking “and what about you? Hm? What kind of adventure are we bound for to the south?”


-- Kaji Okada has entered the thread.
 
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Saitou Rei

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Chortling quietly into her drink as Kaji suggested a child would have faired better than Reo did, Rei couldn't say she disagreed. The idea that the clerk served as some sort of puppet did strike her as odd, but she supposed stranger things had happened. From where she stood it seemed more the norm to find people who were difficult to work with than not; she had once thought Kumogakure to be the exception to that rule, but time and experience had proved her wrong and pulled the rose-tinted glasses right off her face. Still, it was better than some other places she'd lived.

Rei continued to grin through her drink as the retired Captain explained his intentions; a slick strategy to allow the aging shinobi a little freedom. Admiration was not quite the right word to explain her response, but it was close. Perhaps it was just an extension of the empathy derived from the shared experience of all shinobi, an understanding that it was all in all a thankless job that too often saw little reward by comparison of all it demanded on a person's life. She knew some would sneer or mock the older ninja, as if to minimize his commitment to their village or common purpose because he sought some time to himself. Rei, however, had similar plans of her own. Her methods might be more by the book and would certainly take more time, but that was just her nature. Constantly she frustrated herself, but alas, we all have our faults.

Lowering her glass as Kaji took his turn to inquire of her own plans, her expression would lose some of its sheen as sh considered the road ahead of her. Before she could answer, her train of thought was interrupted by the vision of movement in the corner of the room. A young woman who had been nursing a drink alone in business attire - presumably escaping the stressors of her desk job during lunch break - had stood and made her way to the black upright piano against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Her gaze returned to meet Kaji's once more as soon as the stranger began to play. It was a quiet but jazzy melody, and the musician herself proved rather skillful for someone who likely only played at home and in bars.

"Kaibutsu Hunter business." Considering her company's emerald gaze, she paused before deciding he had been candid enough with her to deserve equal respect in response. Crossing one leg over the other and leaning back, she continued, "It's no secret we're short staffed; the whole village is. Between the Tenouzans and the Kaibutsu…" Pausing to take a drink, she thought it best not to carry out that line of thinking. "Long story short, we're hoping to establish a partnership with Sunagakure. They've got more numbers and experience with a broader bestiary than we do, and since our last division head made for the gates we’ve been scrambling just to get by, let alone make any sort of progress in learning much more than we knew nine years ago. Talk about an embarrassment." Turning to set her drink down, she reached forward to pick up the coin that the bartender hadn't taken yet and began to spin it on the counter.

"There's supposedly going to be a conversation about it with our allies in Konohagakure as well, but that's not my concern. I've never been into Wind Country, but I'll still gladly take the desert." Her grey eyes flicked over to gauge how her senior might react. She knew that like herself he had once been a Leaf shinobi, but she did not know the nature of his departure and transfer to Cloud. While she had reason for harbored resentment, she knew well enough that wouldn't be the case for everyone. After a moment, she thought she might reveal a part of her hand - what did she have to lose? "I hear you've got history there in Konoha, Okada-san. Shame you've got business of your own, or we might have been wise to recruit you for that assignment."
 
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Okada Kaji

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The piano playing created a rhythm to ease the natural tension of a quiet bar room. With his coin purse a heavy burden, Kaji intended to leave quite a gratuity for the pianist. Her slender fingers were like the perfect tools to manipulate those ivory keys, creating melodies that softened the edges of a conversation full of striffen details. Heavy hands with hammer-headed digits often distracted from the music, resulting in chunky sounds that opposed the elegance of the instrument itself. I suppose there is a juxtaposition to be found there: the world is a dance floor with many parties unto themselves. There is a house band that keeps the party going— always going, but every now and then someone has to step in and play a new tune to shake up the crowd. A band of shinobi with a cause but no village banner swaying might show up with a heavy metal sound, powerfully jarring. A lone wanderer might do it through their deeds and sound like a twangy voice and discordant harmonica, just long enough to form a following and be copied for generations. But the diplomat: the soothing voice of reason that traveled the world to bring a transfer of new ideas… they had to have a sound like “smooth jazz.”

Kaji was visibly pleased by the music and drummed the fingers of an empty hand to emulate the pianist’s movements, but with no particular accuracy. But before it could seem like he wasn’t aptly listening to Rei, he looked at her somewhat doubtfully.
“So, what does a partnership with the Hidden Sand look like, exactly? Even if you arrive at their doorstep with a vision of sharing goals or knowledge; it’ll likely be weighed against the current situation between Cloud and Leaf…” The tamber in his voice revealed his pessimism, but it would have been a disservice to Rei if he wasn’t forthright in the analysis of her plan. In his heyday, Kaji Okada had taken part in those dances of diplomacy between the hidden village powers. To lead that dance, Rei would have to bring more than the convenience of sharing the floor.

“Before stepping down, Lord Ayumu tried to approach terms of an alliance with the Sand during a Kage Summit in Kurosawa. “At that time, very little was known about The Hourglass because of a thirty-year storm so severe that it made intel-gathering… difficult, at best.” His rebuttal then paused with him taking on a second flagon of ale, gripping the handle firmly to feel it’s warmth. It was just warm enough to sting. The sensation took him back to memories of battle with a misguided shinobi who was consumed by the fires of hatred. Kaji would never forget the unrelenting fire of Kaen Shinku. In fact, he still felt phantom pains from the wounds inflicted by both Kaen and his second opponent from The Hourglass, when it flipped down over him in the Tea Tournament. As dangerous as she was stunning— Kaji wondered how the years had graced the exquisite Asuza, and if the Aikayume bloodline allowed her to age like the fine wine she was destined to become.

Kaji was red in the cheeks from reminiscing of his attempts at touching those floofy ears in their bout when Rei brought up a dour subject that straightened him instantly.
“History is a bit grand…” he replied, bitterly recounting his relationship with the Leaf. “Honestly, everyone I know from those days has either fled to some distant corner of the world, died, or is deserving of some unkind combination of the former.” He pictured a particular Hokage who’ll go unnamed. allowing himself to be captured. Perhaps the bastard’s grimy green bones would hold together long enough after the quartering to flop from the forest of death to the spine of the world. Of course, they would have been dragged, hitched onto the caboose of the Fire to Lightning Railroad Project’s pride and joy. That was the first measure to wither with necrosis when the dark ages began to the south.

“I’d rather venture out to the glass and see about these monsters you're so keen to hunt than step foot in that swamp again.”
 
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Saitou Rei

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"맞는 말이
너의 말에 전적으로 동의해요"


Between the piano and the conversation the bartender had struck up with a gentlemen at the far end of the bar, Kaji would be the only one to hear Rei agree with him in their native tongue about the deserved fate of their former countrymen. It felt like it had been eons since the language of their people had touched her lips; even her accent had been chief among the things she corrected upon arrival in Kumo, aided by intense study of the vulgar kumogakurian dialect in their first year of citizenship. There was a nostalgia rooted deeply in the words Rei spoke that she had not expected, giving her a moment's pause. Looking down at the counter, she downed the last remnants of her beverage before sliding the glass forward and tapping the rim as asking for another.

"To answer your question though, I'm not entirely sure what the end result will look like." Rei followed up, circling back to Kaji's demurral of her lofty intentions. "As you said, we know relatively little about the desert shinobi and their village thanks to the maelstorm. It'd be pompous for me to try to tell you how the pieces are going to fall. But that's the thing about kaibutsu hunting - rarely do things go as you would expect. Each kaibutsu, every hanyo, even the symbiotes are as different from one another as we are. Just as rational, too; a lot of people don't realize that. The moment you begin to think of them as 'just a simian' or 'just a lizard', you've already lost. I'm admittedly not a diplomat, but I have to think Kage are kind of the same way." As she spoke, she picked up her coin once more and gave it a solid flick to flip it in the air. It landed with a clatter on the slick stone counter top: Tails.

"If rumors hold true though, Sunagakure is likely noticing an unexpected development in its fauna. For that our division has… resources, that even Sunagakure in all its mystery may find itself in need of. Still, it'd be unwise to rely on the strength of merchant whisperings. Let's just say I won't be rushing through the desert if an extra week or two in the expanse can provide me the ammunition I need. That was a long way of saying that I deeply believe Wind Country's 'monsters' hold the key to your question." Finally, the bartender having wrapped up his conversation and the tipsy customer he'd been tending to making his way toward a table nearer to the pianist, her second rum and coke arrived. Nursing a long drink, a thought crossed the kunoichi's mind. Considering the events of roughly an hour ago, she took another, having absolutely no idea if the words that followed would come back to bite her in the sandy future ahead. But honestly, what did she have left to lose at this point?

"So why not come see about them? If Water Country can stand to see your delay, of course. Though… I imagine it's just as hard to find someone gone in the Sand as it is the Sea." Putting a hand to her chin, Rei wondered what had come over her. Involving ANBU in Kaibutsu Hunter business wasn't necessarily uncommon, but that usually wasn't her call. Nevertheless both the Master of the Hunt and the Raikage had seen fit to entrust this command to her, and the idea of a travel partner put at ease some of the less savory thoughts that had crept into her mind at late, liquored hours. "I'd be honored to see the esteemed Okada Kaji at work before Mist gets you." She finalized the offer with an inquisitive look, sitting on the edge of maybe actually looking forward to this trip after all.


Fuego Translation said:
"Well said, I couldn’t agree with you more."
 
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Okada Kaji

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There was warmth in Kaji’s smile as he listened to Rei utter the sounds of fuego. While it certainly wasn’t from understanding the language, he instead recognized the sounds in her vibrato. It was as if she had rediscovered a part of herself, or so he figured. To be accepted in a foreign village often meant culling the parts of yourself that make you stand out— unique, in order to blend in and earn the acceptance of people who never had to earn that privilege for granted. Fuego was a beautiful language, and yet it sounded as if Rei had almost forgotten her own mastery of it.

But once Rei flipped the switch back to the common tongue, back to the subject of quest and the rigors of diplomacy, Kaji followed her back with a new perspective on his ambitious company. He kept his lips pursed and leaned against the bar, all ears as Rei sold the vision for her scheme. Full disclosure: he already wanted to address some unfinished business waiting in the Wind Country, but it would have been uncouth to eagerly sign up for the detour like some aimless youngling with their sails in the wind.

“Hm, you’re presenting a strong case— perhaps you’ll make a fine diplomat after all,” Kaji conceded. Then he took a hearty gulp from his beer until a bit of foam coated his stubble. “If I may pivot for just a moment. “Frankly. My outlook on the world in this tarnished silver age has shown the ideas of our banners and borders to often prove a hindrance to what we could accomplish for the greater good. “When Lord Musashi told me that he was arranging a diplomatic mission to the hidden cloud all those years ago, I was convinced that our alliance would bring about peace and security for a generation… it did, kinda.” He paused in a falter, visibly weighing the truth of that statement, and of their eventual failure. “And yet, the moment leadership changed hands, legacies had to be overwritten by false narratives. What I mean is— learning from those mistakes; if we are to press towards some kind of change again, it has to be something that any twat with an ugly hat can’t undo with a self aggrandizing decree.” Then he finished his second beer to put a cap on the motion, and swallow the bits of sorrow from the bitter present at the bottom of the glass. “You’re so young,” he added with a laugh. “The time you have left… In truth, I should be telling you to forget about this plan and go, be happy. “You are a splendid shinobi Rei, I can see it in you after only a chat. “It’s in your eyes, plain as day: the commitment. “Admit that you don’t owe shit to anyone except to yourself… because that’s who you’ll be left with once the adventures are over, and the villages move on, new faces under the same banners. “The woman in the mirror.”
 
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Saitou Rei

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A smile danced at the corners of Rei's eyes as she considered the older shinobi's words. As much as he meant them as a warning, she found them endearing. The idea that a man who had seen as much or more of the underbelly of their world as anyone else could still dream of days of peace and hope to change the systems that enslaved them to the cycle of broken progress was as stirring as it was sobering. She had not been sure what to expect outside of Yuii's muttered frustrations when Umeko wasn't in the room to hear them, but before her sat a character more interesting than she'd anticipated. Within the hour he had threatened a notary within an inch of his life, but now waxed eloquent on the failings of shinobi society. He was perhaps a tad presumptuous yet intuitive enough to get away with it, and possessing of a confident humility. The duality of Okada Kaji.

For a few moments as her company spoke, the melody that set the backdrop to their scene seemed to drop and fade just before intensifying once more and seamlessly blending into a new polyphany, as if to punctuate his persuasion. "That's a tall order, Okada-san." Lowering her hand from her chin to rest on the counter, she gave a melancholic grin and looked into her glass. "I've been given more second chances than I can count, and I've done my best to repay them. That's what we do, right? Meanwhile the cost piles up faster than you realize, and suddenly there's more debt with conflicting interests. So where do you go from there? What path will your reflection be content to let you live with? Do you know?"

Looking back to those emerald hues, Rei feared she'd said too much about nothing and returned to the more pressing matter at hand. "Now a mission to create change that even Kage can't undo? You've got some grand ideas, Okada-san." She winked as she finally took another drink. "Not to say I haven't dreamt of the same thing. I find it seems easier for those who've worn more than one symbol on their headbands to think outside of that box and to consider less political alternatives that might actually serve the people in ways villages can't… or won't."

"Of course, proposing and establishing anything like that - be it a third party organization or a syndicate to coordinate the thing or whatever that might look like - is well outside my authority."
Twirling around the auburn liquid, she pursed her lips in consideration. "Though, if you're serious… I suppose it wouldn't be my fault if a little finesse caused the head wearing the ugly hat to turn to look in the direction we wanted it to and thought the idea up on their own." Raising her eyebrows, a sigh escaped her lips. "Listen to me; I don't know that I could even secure an entente cordial, let alone all of - well, this."
 

Okada Kaji

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The older you get, the more you find yourself wading in the weeds of a long past too wily to prune. For so many shinobi like Kaji, life was a dry tinder in the summer sun, ready to go up in smoke like a matchstick. In his aging state he sought closure like a downpour to save himself; and perhaps restore the vitality to an old man. The empty flagon was the heavy rain, and his pontificating was an attempt at recognizing some wisdom from the experience… to make the life of a ninja past his expiration date worthwhile. Were he sober, Kaji might have warned Rei to not involve herself with him once he became bitter about the past, but the drinks had gotten ahead of him.

“You know, my sensei was a piece of shit, but every now and then he had polish. He used to say that deception was the foundation supporting every hidden village.” He spoke of another confusing pivot, this time living in the past as his attention faded to memory for a few slow heartbeats. “The villages are built on the lies that we tell ourselves in order to serve obediently.” His words came stiffly but didn’t fall on deaf ears as the bartender balked and gave him a glance. Kaji looked back, staring down that incredulity until the drink slinger backed down and looked away. “It’s why the ANBU wear masks— to shield the perpetrator from their shame and call it a necessity. Now, I’ve made some kinda career out of it, so I won’t deny that some of it is needed… But I’ve seen so many good people— children, really— die in the name of a home that would have been better off without the sacrifice. “We fight in their stead, but to really learn from their loss is to live the lives they couldn’t.”

On came an idea— deception. How do you change a system so inherently broken that it fears the work required to bring about its healing? His dour expression lightened as he took more delight in the earnest of Rei’s ambitions in going to Sunagakure. “So about that entente cordial he corrected himself back to their previous threads in the tapestry they wove. “Convincing the Sand to enter some exchange agreement with the Cloud could provide some mobility towards more ambitious plans… Like proposing expeditions to root out the real monsters we don’t talk about. One squad of shinobi with the right skill sets could build shelter for an entire settlement in a week’s time with enough planning. Easily end droughts, produce farms, treat remote villages with healing jutsu— like, this stuff couldn’t be that difficult to arrange, could it?” Yes, it could.
“But let some unwashed vagrant come through our gates trying to sneak in so they can raid our trash cans at night… it’s all thunder and lightning, village might, and pride. Honestly; are we keeping the danger out or in?”
 
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Saitou Rei

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What would a bystander such as their bartender think if they learned that the two immigrant shinobi at the bar had only just met that same morning? What if they heard the brazen statements that amounted to near insubordination, tossed about as easily as if they were discussing the afternoon snowfall? What implications did the ease of the richness of their revelation have for their village; for the shinobi world? Perhaps nothing, just the bitter musings of worn out tools. Yet... truth flowed so easily past Kaji's lips that had so often been used to deceive that even his kunoichi company had to keep tight reign over her expression, lest she balk as obviously as the bar keep at some of his assertions, even in personally knowing their veracity. Yes; children had died and would continue to die, and there seemed nothing to be done about it - not in her lifetime.

Seemed. It's a funny thing, the way that human perception - this intangible force that propels us each through life which can be often so immovable, so stuck in its ways, so dense - can also be flipped so easily, and become so malleable through a single experience or conversation. No, things were not always as they seemed. If a single person in a fancy robe could wreak so much havoc, why couldn't a single squad accomplish the opposite? Slowly, Okada Kaji would unknowingly begin reparations on a broken soul. But even as Rei felt a long forgotten feeling of hope rising in her chest, she begged the older man with her eyes not to dangle a dream in front of her that he did not intend to attempt to procure.

"I think you might be on to something, Okada-san. Though I'm sure others have tried, and we see where that's gotten. Something like this would require, as you said, a very specific make up of shinobi. I know some people..." A pause as she momentarily went still and looked away, motioning for the bartender to bring something from the back shelf. Two shot glasses would appear with a bottle of gin, which he would leave behind. "I might know some people, who may well be interested to join the conversation on this...thought experiment." Guilt began to fill in where hope had sprung as she considered the relationships she spoke of and had yet to ammend. All in all, that was her truest goal. Had she just found her ticket to making it happen? A final inquisitive look into those emerald gems that every instinct in her body told her held the key. The way he spoke had more than given her an indication that the old man looking for an easy retirement wandering the world serving only himself was a facade. No one lived this life debt free; what better way to repay it than to the next generation - to at least attempt what had only been dreamed of in the age of shinobi. "So yeah, I can see it. In fact, I see few other options as worthwhile, while we're dropping the deception. But how about you, Okada-san? I set out for Sunagakure in 42 hours with a mission before me. What shape that may take going forward, who can say. But you - you don't owe shit to anyone except yourself, right? So that time you have left...what would you like to do with it?" Sliding a shot glass toward his seat, she raised her own in his direction. "Offer stands. I hear sandworm encounters are a once in a lifetime experience."
 
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Okada Kaji

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The hope in the room was practically tangible, and yet both of the shinobi understood that the results of their oncoming endeavor would require their greatest work yet. Change was never easy to accomplish— but to attempt the irreversible bettering of whole societies was akin to moving mountains, or better yet, breaking the harshest winter storm over the spine of the world.

“A sandworm?” He found some pause and cracked a smile. “They say that if you can cut one open you’ll never have to work another day in your life.” Amidst the jovial rebuttal, he took up his shot glass. The surface of the glass was still like the face of a moonless sea in his deft hand until it clinked loudly against his new friend, comrade, and associate in the business of progress. He downed the liquor in an easy gulp, likely in a showy attempt at drinking like his Mempo days. The young ANBU were notorious for drinking like fish, but that shot burned like a hot coal in his gut. He made a single gag and reflexive shake as if it was all going to blow, but coolly played it off and slapped the glass on the counter.
“Ah…” the sound of his refreshment was mostly a facade, but the purpose of that toast: a true cause for celebration.

“Forty-two… so a day and a wake up it is,”
he said in an agreeing tone. “Should be enough to make a few adjustments in my pack… Probably won’t need my portable canoe where we’re headed. Gotta pay the misses a visit; maybe she’ll finally teach me how to say goodbye. An’ maybe tie up a couple of loose ends downstairs, one last time.” The latter intention came with a couple of knocks from his heel, likely an indicator that he meant underground; the Sileo Tempestas. “So, how about we meet up at the gates at dawn? If we beat the morning caravans we can make it to Port Cirrus in time for dinner.” Suddenly, the change of the piano’s tune shifted to resemble his favorite melody; the call of the road. “Or at least before the shops close… If we’re going to end up calling in favors from our friends along the way, we should probably stop by this little cafe on the way. There’s a guy I know, former Cloud— he’s solid… you’ve probably heard of ‘em. “He’s easily bought if you’ve got good beans.”

Then he stood up as if the time had come to part for the evening. He took his coat off the chair’s back, but took out a few more yen, insisting on paying in excess. The coinage he dropped was strange at best, with varied mintage that spanned ages and nations, but all held proper values. And why the excess? Kaji took the bottle of gin and poured another shot in both glasses. “One for the road, and some for the road,” he explained with a grin. The bottle vanished beneath his cloak in the same instance as his other hand scooped up the little glass. This time a little ran onto his fingers, and the flush was obvious on his face. “Take a shot for freeeeeedom he insisted before hopefully aiming another toasting clash at Rei. He hit the table with a customary knock and down the hatch it went.

-- Topic Left Unless Stopped.
 

Saitou Rei

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Jan 31, 2018
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The clink of the glass, the splatter of an ink seal on paper, the grip of the handshake. There was a finality to these signals of agreement, the marking of a distinctive path forward and the loss of other possible futures. As the warmth of the liquor filled her stomach, it mingled with another familiar sensation. It was the same feeling she had whenever she traversed to the top of the Monumentum Deo - to gaze out upon a landscape altogether beautiful as it was terrifying, full of glorious history as well as the ability to cut any ill-prepared traveler's story short. From where she sat, she knew she was staring out over the edge of another perilous cliffside - with endless possibilities glimmering like snow out past the horizon.

"Gates at dawn." Rei nodded with agreement. Kaji mentioning picking up some old connections continued to turn the gears in her mind. She'd already had a great deal left to do, including unfinished paperwork back at the Torre, but she mentally added a name to her checklist. There was at least one person left in Cloud that she trusted and felt deserved to know what was up before she departed. What she decided to do with that information was up to her, of course.

Rei remained seated as Kaji moved to make his exit, but returned his toast and mirrored his tap on the counter before downing her own shot. Probably unwise; even though she tended to hold her liquor well, there was much to be done that would require a clear mind. For now, however, she would move to take a seat closer to the pianist and remove herself from the temptations of the bar side. Normally this vice of her own choosing granted her a reprieve from her reality, but as the musician filled the room with a warm melody she couldn't help but perhaps feel… alive; more than just moving aimlessly toward another day of survival. For so long she'd been like a ship put out to sea and nearly lost in the fight against the battering of waves, but at last her wellerman had come and brought new provisions. The line had gone slack, now tight once more - yes, she supposed, it was time to take her leave and go.


-Topic Left.
-This was excellent Kaji, thanks a million.