Date: September 3, 2014
Knowing the Silence was going to be making their way to Konoha eventually, Eremi wanted to make sure he was there when the organization decided to strike. Before setting up camp though, some old friends crossed his path and decided to have a chat.
"A Walk to Remember"
Southern Pathway in the Land of Fire
It was a late spring day with the sun almost completely hidden behind the horizon. The glow from the setting sun barely making its way through the many trees that cover the landscape. To the east, the lights that are strung about the great river bridge have already been lit in preparation for the coming darkness. Up above, grey clouds dot the sky, suspended motionless in the absence of wind.
Many travelers and traders have already made their way into the village or further toward the harbor as night takes over. The forests of the Land of Fire was relatively empty save for a lone figure dressed in ragged robes and torn bandages. The figures approach into the southern pathway moving deeper along the trail was slow, yet unhindered. The man felt little reason to hide his presence nor a need to bring suspicion to himself. His face remained visible, allowing him the occasional opportunity to sip from a gourd.
It's not at all unusual for Atsuro and Taizen to find themselves on a patrol in the farther reaches of the Land of Fire — even just the two of them. But they've been going out on more and more of those, what with this Silence group going around attacking villages. It's getting late now, and they know they'll have to set camp soon, but they want to just check out this one last bit of the path before they do that.
The moment they reach the path, they realize they've stumbled across something — someone significant. It's been a long time, but this scent is familiar to them… maybe. They turn to face the stranger… or maybe the old friend.
The lone figure continued on the path, focus straight ahead even with the sound of rustling throughout several of the trees nearby. A noise typically followed or preceded by gusts of wind, but with no gusts reaching the man and a brief glance upwards to see the clouds still remaining stationary, he knew it to be something else. And yet, he still continued ahead. At least until two memories of a time long ago blocked his path.
A smile would be given, wary at best, but Eremi was in fact glad to see the duo. They weren't his intent for making the journey back 'home', but an added bonus nonetheless. "Atsuro…Taizen." Pausing in his approach, unknowing if the two would be hostile toward seeing him once again. "It's been too long. You both look well. Which is good. I think about you and the others often. Moreso now than before."
For a moment, Atsuro stays silent, unsure what he could possibly say. But eventually a certain part of his sense of humour makes it through. "Nothing charitable by now, I imagine," he says drily. Taizen's tail was slowly. "I hope… that you are doing well," says the dog, slowly, not totally sure that those words even mean anything to Eremi coming from him. "We think of you too," says Atsuro. In fact, seeing Eremi appear so suddenly is a reminder of their greatest regret: that they didn't do more to save him. "Is it safe for you to be in the Land of Fire?" he asks, "You can't have the same relationship with /every/ ninja here that you do with me."
Eremi smirked at the comment while slowly shaking his head, relieved to see Atsuro was still as he remembered the man. Though hearing Taizen speak was a new trick, not something he knew the ninken capable of. "I can't complain really." The man shrugged as he looked down to the gourd in his hand, contemplating another sip, but deciding against it as he reattaches it to his hip with the others before looking back at the pair. "It probably isn't safe and I'm sure I don't have the same relationship…at least not like I used to." Pausing briefly before muttering, "Never even got to say goodbye to Taiki."
A deep breath would be taken before he continued, "Considering this new threat, The Silence, I'm not sure it's safe to be anywhere. I saw their work when they first revealed themselves up close and personal. They're delusional in their plans and what they hope to achieve, but they're also incredibly powerful and because of that, I had to come back. There are a lot of people in the Land of Fire I care about. My family in Kadomai and those that I consider my friends."
"I think you probably can," says Atsuro, "Maybe even should." A light sigh escapes his lips, then he drops the subject for now. "You know how hard it is to tell what's going on in Taiki's head, but I think he does miss you. Doesn't make it explicit, but he does value his friends… even if he doesn't show it very well. Of course, I don't think he knows the circumstances of your leaving, either — maybe I should have told him."
At the mention of Silence, he folds his arms and closes his eyes for a second. "They're probably the reason we're out patrolling," he says, "I guess your situation proves we have a few secrets worth spilling. Who knows just how it's all going to go down…" He shakes his head. "You know, a lot of the people you're trying to help might end up turning against you." He stops for a second as a thought occurs to him. "You /do/ know, in fact. What's your plan here, exactly? You didn't come back just to get yourself killed. Hopefully."
Sure he could complain, but given the path he had chosen, how does he have any right to do so. Eremi thought on the matter for a little bit, but like Atsuro, let it drop. "That's certainly true. Though at this point I feel were we to meet the same way you and I keep running into each other, he'd show how much he missed me with his fists, instead of his words." Hearing the latter half of what Atsuro said, the reasoning behind him leaving, Eremi just shook his head and waved a hand at, "It's better that you didn't. Taiki's a Clan Head now and still dealing with The Recluse I'm sure. Adding more to his plate, it's not necessary."
He'd shrug once again as he shifted in his stance, moving his weight from one leg to the other, "I don't know what's going to happen in Konoha when the Silence attack, because they certainly will. I just want to be here when it happens. Even if it means being attacked by those I've come to help, so be it. If in the end, my life is used to save those that I selfishly left behind…then that's the way it must be. "
"He might," Atsuro admits, "He's quick to react and quick to assume. And if he makes the wrong assumption…" He nods. "Yeah, well… I guess news travels, eh? As a matter of fact, he is clan head. And he's still dealing with the Recluse, yeah." He points towards Eremi. "Seriously though. Are you going to just wait on the outskirts of the village and wait for them to attack or what? Maybe you could talk to Daisuke and see if he's convinced. I know you've got your head in this whole self-sacrifice thing, but what if you have the same problem with everyone else that you think you'll have with Taiki?"
Eremi nodded, but didn't offer much else to the conversation involving Taiki. His old friend seemed to still be having a tough time at things…but his old friend was tough. "Oh." Confusion crossing the mans face with a finger pointing toward him and the series of questions that followed. "Well," Bringing a hand up to scratch at the back of his head.
"My plan was to check on my family and make sure they were still safe. I wouldn't show myself to them though, as there's no need to put them in danger. Once I did that" Dropping his hand back to his side, "I was going to search for any Silence bases that might be deep within the Land of Fire or just outside their borders. There has to be some in all the villages. Nothing else could explain how they are able to bring so many of their followers across the lands without being detected."
"Other then dealing with some of the lower ranking members of their organization, I don't know. I can just hope that Konoha is smart enough to not try and take me on at the same time as the Silence. Hopefully I'm the lesser threat."
A hint of a smile reaches Atsuro's lips. "Still kind of a brat," he says, "Which doesn't help him, being in the situation he's in. He's improved in other ways. It hasn't gotten any easier, but he has gotten better at it." Taizen adds, "He is more than just the clan head. He is also very important at the hospital now. And he is working on ninjutsu with both Shinobu and Nozomi."
Atsuro nods. "I hadn't heard anything to make me think that Kadomai was /unsafe/. And I haven't heard of anything happening to your family. I'm sure you'll check anyway. I just thought you might like to get some of that news quicker." He stays silent for a brief time. "Not that I think you're lacking survival skill at this point," he says, "but what happens if you do find a base and they're more than you can handle?"
"I see…I see." Nodding approvingly, "It's good to hear Taiki's progressed as much as he has. I've known for quite sometime he's wanted to mix Ninjutsu with Inuzuka techniques. The life of a shinobi, it sure worked out well for him." Eremi smirked at the thought before smiling a bit wider at Atsuro's report of his family, "Yeah, I'll definitely check. If for anything, just to see their faces again." It's been too long. His dad was a shinobi, it was why Eremi joined the academy. Had his younger brother joined as well?
Atsuro's last question causing Eremi to tilt his head slightly. It had indeed been a while since the three of them were last together, so what Eremi was capable of at this point was a mystery to the Inuzuka pair. "If it comes to that, I think I'll be fine. The main threat are the brothers, while the goons they hire seem to be nothing more than rabble picked off the street. Their numbers being large simply to cause a distraction to the defending village, why the brothers use the chaos to steal secrets. If I can plug up some of their bases, it will mean less of a force the brothers get to use to help them."
Atsuro can't help but smile more fully now. It's almost like there's anything sane about the circumstances they've found themselves. He nods. "Okay," he says, "You obviously know quite a bit more about the whole thing than I do. I'll take that as an indication that I should never have asked." He looks over to the horizon. The sun has disappeared by now, and even the light is fading. "We should get a move on," he says reluctantly, "And probably you too. I have a feeling you'll say no to both, but is there anything we can do to help you before we go? And is there any way we can convince you to come back?"
Eremi chuckled slightly, "I only know because I was there, otherwise I would have no clue. Be as in the dark as the other villages. Kumo was only attacked as a warning to the other villages, but no secrets were stolen. Suna spoke out to the threat, so naturally the Silence made Suna their first target and proved what they were capable of by revealing one of their secrets already. Were Kiri or Konoha to make a display like Suna, the Silence would be sure to see it as a challenge and had that way immediately. If that's the case, Konoha could set up a trap and be ready…Something to think about I guess."
His eyes would move along with Atsuro's, agreeing that their time spent in one location had come to an end. "Well, if there are people you trust, more than just Taiki, Shinobu and Nozomi, it'd be nice if they weren't fully surprised when I show up to help. Though you telling them means you were conversing with a missing-nin and did nothing to bring me in…As for coming back, I doubt it. I left, even though there were probably better ways to handle the situation, but even to this day there's no bounty on my head. So does Konoha really want me back?" He'd shrug, "I'm sure you and a few others do, but, my presence as a whole most likely isn't missed." Eremi started to walk along the path again, "If I come back, it'll be on my own terms. When I fill like Konoha actually wants me there."