Date: December 10, 2016
Goh and Mushi act as security for a prison escort.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"A Snow Prison"
When people talk about the Land of Snow, many things come to the imagination. Mostly people think about fluffy white mountain tops, and perhaps some glistening glaciers. True, while there are locations like that in this country, the vast majority of the country however is desert. Barren and desolate, with naught but hard ice underfoot.
This is the terrain that Mushi and Goh have been traversing over the past few days. In some ways it's harder to cope with than the Land of Wind, as ice underfoot, coupled with the harsh wind chill factor and lake of direct sunlight provides a whole new set of problems and challenges to overcome. The main being, of course, is that you have to keep warm.
Regardless, the pair had managed to soldier on and keep their spirits pretty high. That said, if they didn't get to their destination soon? Tempers may have started to boil a little.
In the middle of seemingly no-where, with nary a township, village or ANY sort of civilisation around, Goh comes to a stop, the pickler looking at his map. There is no cart with him this time. Nor any salamander. Just the two. "This should be where we're meeting my friend." He speaks, squinting into the distance. Visibility was low, with a low hanging fog making it difficult to see further than fifteen meters ahead. "I can't see anything though. No towns or anything."
Mushi had opted to keep her hummingbirds out of this weather. They are birds used to warm forests, not frozen tundras. Besides she'd never been to the Land of Snow, and she wanted to see it on foot. The glamour of this expedition wore off quickly though. It's icy, it's cold, and her extremities are numb. She's ready to take a dip in the Land of Hot Springs. And that was only halfway to their destination. By the time they reach their destination Mushi is bundled up to look like a fuzzball. Layers of jackets, underlinings, pants, gloves, scarves, and other gear help protect against the cold. Maybe it wouldn't be quite as bad, if they hadn't taken an extended stay in a /hot/ desert so recently ago.
When they approach their final destination, Mushi lowers her scarf a little and shifts her cloak to free up her arms a bit. They're not expecting any danger right here. In fact, this is supposed to be Goh's friend. But this place has put Mushi on edge. Why would your friend need our help specifically? she asks, not for the first time.
"I owe him a favour." Goh pouts, acting as if it's the first time he has heard the question. "And he knows that I'm strong. Well, he knows I /was/ strong. He probably thinks I'm still at that level." His nose wrinkles, some icy wind sweeping past. Even the pickler has layers on in this weather, the scarf folded around his neck a few more times than usual.
"Ooooh, Goh!" Cries a voice that is hidden from yonder. Out from that direction, from the misty fog and dankness of the late afternoon, comes a plump looking individual. He has a very rotund body, with rounded cheeks swelling with redness due to being exposed in the chill. Age-wise he's older than the traveling duo, but not by much. "Ah! Mamoru! There you are." Moving forward to greet his friend, Goh gives the man a quick handshake. "This is my partner, Mushi. I hope you don't mind that I've brought her along." Goh gestures to the healer, where Mamoru bows respectfully. "Of course not. Well met, Mushi. It is a pleasure to have you on board this mission." He seems a bit different to Roshi, at least!
"Has Goh told you much about the mission at hand?" Asked with a smile, the man tucking arms behind his back.
"You seem to think you owe everyone a favor," Mushi grumbles. "Maybe I should call in my favor. A trip to the Land of Hot Sp—oh, never mind." They've spotted the man they've been seeking. Mushi hangs back to watch them, like a shy kid clearing the way for two grown ups talking. But she doesn't have much choice when Goh introduces her, and Mushi turns her level, green eyes on Mamoru. He seems very filled out. After a moment of hesitation, she inclines her head respectfully. "I promise not to hold this mission back in any way, Mamoru-san," she says clearly over the cutting wind. "It's nice to meet you too. The coming has been rather cold." Her tone is tinged with wryness at that. The sooner they finish this mission and get out of the cold, the better. "Could you relate the mission details again?"
"Yes, it is quite chilly, isn't it?" Mamoru beams, somewhat annoyingly so. He looks to Mushi, looking a bit weathered, and then Goh, who just looks grumpy to be there. "Come on. Just tell us so we can get the inmate out of here." The pickler suddenly snaps, before lifting a hand. "Sorry, sorry. I didn't mean that. It's just… well, Mushi is right. We aren't cold blooded people, Mamoru."
Mamoru, who perhaps gets this quite a lot from tourists, gestures to the ground. "Right then. Well, at the moment you stand upon one of the most secure prisons ever constructed. It contains only one cell, and that cell is used on very dangerous S-Class criminals, as you'd expect. On top of being in a very remote location and sealed deep underground, the natural structure of the ice prevents fire techniques being used on a grand scale. If you used a Great Fireball technique for instance, it would quickly dissipate given the cold weather." He pauses, and as he does so he performs a seal with his fingers. Performing some sort of technique, the very ground starts to shift beneath them! As it turns out, the three are standing on a platform, which slowly begins to lower into the depths of the earth.
"We currently hold a prisoner named Ryo, but he is due to be transferred to another jail far to the south. As a master fire-style ninjutsu shinobi, he obviously presents a great threat to us. It would make me feel much better if I knew I had someone of your capabilities watching over the transfer process. Just ensure he gets from his prison here, to his transport, safely."
As the trio descend further, they will find themselves in a very large cavern. With walls and ceilings of ice, it is almost picturesque. The colours were quite stunning, of that there was little doubt. But the flumes of hot air that Goh exhales indicate that it's still cold. Perhaps getting even /cooler/ than outside.
Mushi shoots a sharp glance at Goh. He doesn't have that supposed strength that Mamoru believes, and she's opening her mouth to say as much. Then she shuts it. Perhaps more dangerous for Goh is revealing that he's been reduced. So she smiles slyly at Goh and says, I'm sure we'll pull this off without a hitch. I'm fast and Goh-kun is strong, so we'll be able to handle even a high level prisoner. But first… Here she turns to Mamoru. I'd like to know what he's been imprisoned for. This seems quite a bit of trouble for a single prisoner. His crime must've been grievous. She waits expectantly for the man's reply. As they descend her steaming breath leaves her mouth like swirling questions. She tightens her cloak back around her. Jeez, this place is cold. To preserve some warmth she steps near Goh, and wraps her arm around his. Leans against him too. At least they can still provide body heat, though she can hardly feel it through the layers of frigid winter gear.
As the platform descends, the whirring of cogs and rope echoing out into the still air, Mamoru retrieves a scroll from his pocket. "Of course." As he unfolds it, Goh wraps an arm around Mushi's shoulder to hug her close. Just to try and keep himself warm too. "Takamura Ryo. Convicted and found guilty of serial murder, including six high profile samurai leaders." Mamoru reads off the twenty-six names that the man has killed, before folding the scroll back up. "As I mentioned, he is only here temporarily until a suitable prison for him was found. With that being the case, we are looking to ship him off and prep for our next inmate."
Finally the platform touches the base of this huge cavern, and off steps Mamoru, followed by Goh. It was a different sort of cold down here in the depths. There was no wind, but the cold that simply /exudes/ from the walls feels like it's seeping directly into the bones. Goh can feel his strength already inhibited from such temperature. Truly, this prison was one-of-a-kind.
The trio are led to a gated door, where it looks like a room has been built into the cavern wall by man. The gate is constructed of cold hard iron, or at least something that looks like it. On either side of it stand two shinobi, each dressed in uniform.
"The transport is on the surface already. So if you are all ready, we might start the transfer."
Even underneath her layers of clothes, Mushi shivers in that complete cold. At the bottom of the transport she stops behind and closes her eyes. Gathering herself and, more than that, gathering her chakra ahead of time. After she's ready she falls in beside Goh and Mamoru. "Why did he do it?" she asks. "For money? For honor? Madness?" She seems interested in the story behind this prisoner. She's shown the same interest in all her enemies so far, and had even questioned the Patriarch. She glances at Mamoru, watching him closely in case he might take offense at her constant questioning.
When they reach the bars, Mushi touches one of them to test what metal it's made from. "This prison really is one of a kind," she says, wonderingly. After a few moments she glances at Goh. "I'm ready when you are. If you are."
"To be honest," Mamoru begins, tucking arms behind his back. "I do not know. It's not my business to know that much. I just know about his capabilities. I think I remember reading that he is a Bounty Hunter?" Said in a tone that suggests he is guessing. "But I could be wrong."
Goh inhales sharply and deeply, before exhaling slowly. He nods to his lover, cracking his knuckles in preparation. "Let's roll." He starts. "Sooner we get this loser secured, sooner we can hit the hot springs." Looking at his own breath, the whiteness of it contrasting against the aqua-blue surrounds, his eyes settle onto the two shinobi guards who open the door, and walk Ryo out.
The prisoner is disheveled, with a long brown beard and hair that falls over his face. The tunic pants with and sleeveless top certainly don't do a lot to protect him from the cold, although that is potentially by design. With a guard on each arm, he slowly yet surely walks towards the platform in which Goh, Mushi and Mamoru arrived upon. Ryo's mouth is sealed shut with a bandage, each hand covered in iron gloves that stop him from weaving signs. He looks to Goh and Mushi with a hard glare, before back to his destination.
"He hasn't got anything at all to keep him warm?" Goh asks. Mamoru nods. "We need to keep him on the brink down here. His system is constantly in a state of shock, meaning it's difficult for him to mould chakra." The pickler just shakes his head. It's not his job to dictate how a prison should operate, but it certainly seemed barbaric. Very very old school.
Mushi takes in the prisoner's entire appearance, starting from his head and working her way down to his shoes, all in one gaze. That's… Barbaric? Atrocious? As an escort it seems bad enough, but as a medic such treatment even towards a prisoner is unforgivable. She rubs the back of her neck, and lets out a slow sigh. Objecting would probably get her nowhere, at least for now. Maybe later she can do something about his inhumane conditions. And for all she knows, this is necessary.
She turns away, and doesn't complete her sentence. Though now she can't take much pleasure in holding on to Goh again. She slips her hands in her pocket, under her cloak. She takes a last look at the prison around them, and waits to go up and escort this man to his next destination. But as they'd ascend she makes a few hand seals and says, "I'm going to seal up his chakra with my fuinjutsu technique, if that's acceptable. I'm very adept."
As they begin to ascend, Goh casts his eyes up to the long distance which they have to rise to. It was a long, long way. Ryo stays silent, though the bandages across his mouth pretty much force that. At the suggestion from Mushi, Goh flicks a thumb up. Mamoru seems equally keen on the idea, bowing his head in graciousness. "Please!"
Just before Mushi will start however, a BOOM from the surface can be heard. It's almost like an explosion. And then, the entire platform will slacken. The ropes and cogs are severed from the top, meaning that everyone is now FALLING! "Cell!" Goh cries in surprise, looking down at the near fifty meter drop that is now below them.
A single flash can be seen from above, as a metallic line fires in from the top and wraps about Ryo like a grappling hook, stopping him from the fall. With a grunt, Goh lets loose a kunai knife with a keen throw, severing this line to make sure Ryo falls with the rest of them. One thing is clear though. Someone was trying to break Ryo free!
"After I seal up his chakra we can at least give him a scarf to…" Mushi starts to say, when there's a thunderous noise and they all start falling. Goh reacts in time to send all of them plummeting down towards the bottom, including their reluctant prisoner. As they fall down Mushi makes a few seals and slaps her hands against the sides of the descending walls. In a rush of wind and feathers there's a bird, so big the tips of its wings brush the sides. Mushi shouts something, and as they fall there's a surge of wind that makes them fall…slower. Enough for them to land at an almost floating speed.
"Where the heck have you summoned me to!?" Kirameki demands.
"Sorry," Mushi says. She gives a very short summary of what they're up to. She shoots a glare at Ryo. No scarf for him! At least…for now. She turns to Goh and says bluntly, "This is dangerous."
"Don't say I never take you places." Goh responds to the glare with a chuckle, obviously grateful to Mushi for the slow rise down to the cavern beneath.
As people begin to come to the realisation that they had no fallen to their deaths, a rain of kunai knives fall down at deadly speeds from above. The two escort guards (who had turned to Mushi to say their thanks) are sliced to ribbons, screaming death as they fall into pools of their own blood. Mamoru is shoved aside by Goh, who expertly avoids the rain of death himself with some strafes and manauvering. Ryo is currently standing near Mushi, still secured.
Once the attack passes, the perpetrator appears with a flash of movement from above. It's a woman, with tied back blonde hair wearing traditional shinobi garb. With a grit of her teeth she hurls forward a large shuriken, sending the spinning weapon straight for Mushi! Obviously in an attempt to separate the healer and Ryo. There is no greeting here. No false bravado from her. Just all business. And she was /good/.
"Don't— Mushi has time to say, before they're sliced to ribbons. Mushi hunkers down feebly. Or not so feebly since the shuriken slices into a chakra barrier, only to come to a complete stop as it's wedged into the solid chakra. It's a good thing she'd focused all that chakra beforehand. She spares a glance for Goh and her companions before she'd make a few seals and send out a massive wave of chakra that completely fills the tunnel. It'd sweep over her allies and enemies alike, but Goh and Mamoru would feel a tingling as the chakra washes over them, nothing more. However, everyone else would be paralyzed by the chakra upon contact. In all this time she doesn't budge from Ryo's side. She's sticking to him, and not letting anyone liberate him, man or woman. "This is ridiculous," she mutters.
The assassin is secure good, but… well, Mushi? She's something else entirely. The other female freezes in her place, paralysed by the chakra wave that Mushi attacks with. "W…wh?" She gurgles in surprise, confusion and panic. In a true testament of teamwork and how well they work together, Goh is only an inch away from the assassin when she gets paralysed, perhaps having predicted that Mushi was going to use that technique. In a jumping kick motion, about one-tenth of a second passes after she becomes paralysed before Goh's right foot SLAMS into her right cheek. Her entire face sort of bends around his foot for a moment, before she flies off to the left. She sort of bounces once, then careens right into the cavern wall with a smash of ice.
Ryo just stares, perhaps having figured that he was definitely getting free today. But with his rescuer now laying in a heap, perhaps dead, hope was dashed in the blink of an eye.
"Phewww," Goh mutters, stretching out his hip flexor. "I think I strained something."
Mamoru, like Ryo, just /stares/. The duo had neutralised this problem in only seconds. The combination of their attacks and the timing was as perfect as he'd ever seen. First Mushi's chakra wave, which was so strong it /paralyzed/ their victims. And then Goh, who moved so quickly he missed it on account of blinking an eyelid.
"The lift is broken." The pickler observes. "We'll have to walk up the ice walls to get out. Did you want to carry Ryo, hun?" He asks Mushi. "I can carry Mamoru." Pause. "Sorry about your guards." He casts a quick glance over to the two escorts.
Mamoru stammers for an answer.
Mushi goes over to the two guards, and checks each one of them carefully. Messy. It's too messy to try and salvage them at this point. So she closes their eyes, in a poor imitation of restfulness. When Goh mentions having to traverse to the top, Mushi uses another seal and in a poof of steam a hummingbird appears, this one tiny. "Ara-chan go up and make sure the coast is clear, she says.
She nods in agreement to Goh, and says, "I'll help you up Ryo-san. As promised she'd use a seal to lock away his chakra. But as she'd hinted before she summons a cloak to wrap around the criminal's shoulders. "He's going to freeze to death, Mushi says. "If you want him to be a prisoner and not a corpse, at least let him wear a cloak. It's still not enough. Then she'd just haul Ryo over her shoulder like a sack of wheat and start to make her way up the wall, carefully.
Mamoru frowns as Mushi wraps Ryo in a cloak, but he's in no position to argue. With a begrudging nod, he too is hoofed up, though it's by Goh. Right next to her he walks, scaling up the icy cavern with expert chakra control. "How long do you think it would take to get to the hot springs?" Goh asks idly to Mushi, the cavern walls starting to inverse and turn into ceilings as they continue to scale them without trouble.
Upon surfacing and breaking free of the cavern, Ara-chan will find no-one else around. Heck, the transport itself actually remains undamaged, with the riders still there and waiting. Perhaps the assassin planned to commandeer it to help with the escape?
Minutes later, the duo surface. Exposed to the harsh wind again, Goh shudders as he places Mamoru down. "Consider the favour settled." He declares with a frown. The prison warden dips his head in respect, thanking the pair.
"Thank-you! If it weren't for you two, I… I would be dead. I owe you both my life. If you are ever in the area again, please, I beg of you, stay with me for great hospitality."
Mushi lets out a long, heartfelt sigh. It seems she's not in a joking mood right now. She doesn't respond to Goh's question, and just walks in silence. Her eyes are distant, and full of thought. Probably with the men down there she'd saved, only for them to die a moment later. So they go the entirety of the way in silence, and Mushi doesn't even respond to Mamoru's thanks. She just inclines her head a bit. It's Ryo who she gives the longest look, thoughtful. Finally she says, "If you ever want to repay my kindness, then do one thing. Maybe find a way where the prisoners aren't in such discomfort. Extreme and unending cold is about as unpleasant experience as you can endure. For any human being."
She turns to Goh and starts to walk away. "I dunno. But I do know I'm going to jump in one of those hot springs for the next five years. Let's get out of this place." And she'd start to do just that.