Date: November 14, 2014
Arriving in the Land of Snow, Mushi and Red set out to find Red's old home.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Adventures in the Snow Part 2"
Land of Snow
Travelling to the Land of Snow is not a difficult route. The only problem was time, since it was as far east as you can possibly get. As an isolated island that sat beyond the Land of Water, the only way it is reached is by ship. Thus, that is how Mushi and Red arrive, the transport ship pulling into the blustery port of the Land of Snow.
It being cold is expected, given 'snow' is in the name of the country. Yet still, it's always difficult to judge exactly /how/ cold it is until you get there. The entire dock is mostly covered in sleek ice and snow. The port itself looks long abandoned, with nary a soul in sight.
Red and Mushi are the only two to disembark, the ship quickly setting off on its return journey back to the warmer climate. Red himself, feeling comfortable enough in his winter clothes, just looks at the landscape that greeted them from the dock. Mountains, all covered in snow. It was quite beautiful, though oddly eerie at the same time.
It's interesting how Mushi uses her scrolls as storage. She plucked out one that said 'wardrobe' as they neared the Land of Snow, and a huge closet that made the boat lean a few inches appeared, so large it's like a tiny room. She'd gone in, shut the door, and come out several minutes later in a parka, fur lined cloak, and winter boots. Along with a number of scarves, gloves, ropes, and other gear for the cold weather. Clearly she'd been in the Land of Snow, or at least she was prepared for cold climates. Such is the savviness of a wanderer. "It's nice," she says. Despite the muffler around her mouth, she can be heard clearly. "Are you ready, Red?"
"Yeah… I guess." Red replies, not sounding too confident. "What are we even meant to be looking for? I don't know where my old town is. This place all looks the same to me. Just snow. /Everywhere/." A hand lifts to rub his reddening his nose. "There's a Ninja Village in the Land of Snow right? I think my town was on top of the mountain nearby. But I don't know what it was called." Red shrugs, turning to the healer.
"Do you know where the Village is? Maybe something will look familiar to me there."
Mushi laughs when Red starts speculating about where the village is. She reaches out to ruffle his hair, and then draws out a detailed map of the Land of Snow. "We'll search these places," she says. "If we have to go over any mountains we'll ask Kirameki to fly up. Otherwise, we'll walk. It'll be nice to see a bit of your country ehh? And the first village isn't too far away." Many of them are crossed off with red pen. "You mentioned woods nearby. Here are ones that are nothing but barren wasteland. Nothing can grow there. Try to remember. Were there mountains nearby? If you don't remember, we won't cross off any. But if there were, these ones have foothills…peaks…the works." She had sat on a bench near the dock, which was frozen in ice, the map on her lap. Mushi shivers, even beneath the winter gear.
"Eeeeh… I dunno." Red scratches his head in a bit of wonder, honestly not sure about many of Mushi's questions. It was difficult, really! "All I remember is a mountain, I think. Aaaagh, now that I think on it, I dunno anymore!" He sighs a bit, rubbing his own head roughly in frustration. "It's really hard. I dunno. Yeah, forests. Let's try the ones with mountains nearby first." He nods a bit at his own idea. "Yeah… I think that makes sense." The boy smiles, "Don't tell me you're shivering already! We only just got off the boat."
Mushi stands up, patting her backside. "It's not that. An icy bench can soak through even the thickest pants, apparently." She wraps the cloak around her a bit more tightly. Maybe to hide the fact it looks like she wet herself. She nods to Red and they'd set off. After about an hour of hiking, the novelty of 'the good ol Land of Snow' wears off, and they're flying on Kirameki. Kirameki flies low—the higher they go, the colder it would get. Her vast shadow is visible over the white snow. The people they pass stare at the strange sight. Within minutes they're at the first village, and Mushi is helping Red down, dismissing Kirameki. "Even if this isn't your village we'll ask around," she says. "See if we can't find someone who might help jog your memory."
"At least you don't have a blubber butt." Red remarks with a short laugh. "Well, I guess you want one in the snow, huh? Then you can sit everywhere." Falling into line behind the fellow wanderer, and sometimes beside her, the pair venture off.
Despite his earlier comment about it being 'cheating' to fly on one of Mushi's hummingbirds, Red is sort of glad that they eventually opt to fly. The terrain was unforgiving, and the conditions were ridiculous. There was such thing as being sensible, too!
Being lifted down, he looks around the small village with a bit of wonder. It doesn't seem to resonate with Red at all, who just scratches his chin. "I guess. Maybe we can get some sort of drink here, too? Something warm and nice for my tummy."
The village is tiny, and the people seem surprised to see the two. Apparently this area isn't a popular destination for tourists. They don't even have an inn. What they do have is the local pub. And inside, a fire is blazing. Though the village seems meager at first, the houses are built to keep in the warmth. And there's a huge fire burning—the pile of logs looks more like an entire tree chopped up, and the fire itself is so hot it's hard to get anywhere near. The room is warm. Before Mushi can buy some food though someone mentions a girl with a bad cold. After that, they get food and drink for free as Mushi goes around the village, healing a few people with bad head colds. By the time she's done and returns to the pub, she's eating with both hands. Villagers talk to her, and Red would get his fair share of attention since one of the kids was cured of her cold and has gathered her group to chatter at him.
Red does his best to be social, but he's just not into it. Making new friends and such isn't why he was here, though it was sort of interesting to at least hear about the stories these people had. It was a tough life for them, no doubt. Right when the boy is about to lose all interest, an older man, perhaps in his early thirties, calls out to him.
"Hey kid, you got 'dem demon eyes." Red blinks a little, before pointing to himself. "Yeah that's right, I'ma talkin' to you. Yer part of that family, ain't ya? Only ever seen eyes like that on one family before. But they long gone now. Left travellin' or somethin'." Red sort of watches, not entirely sure if the man was serious, or trolling. He looks to Mushi with a silent expression. She'll have the answer!
Mushi is chatting easily with the people around her. It seems she's good around people in a pub, as well as over a sickbed. She too looks a bit distracted though. And after awhile she's eaten and drank her fill. She turns to Red who is the center of attention among the children, but suddenly becomes a point of interest for an old man. At first Mushi bristles at the mention of 'demon eyes' on Red. But then he starts talking about lineage and location. She moves her stool around to better face the man. "You say you've seen people with eyes like his," she says. "I've wandered many places and never seen others with eyes like them. Can you tell me about them?"
"Sure can," The man replies, eyeing Mushi up and down with a cheekily formed smile. "Anything for a new gal to the snow like you. That's what everyone called 'em." The man gestures to Red with his pint of beer, who is still sitting there. Not entirely sure how he feels about being labelled something like that.
"Demons. Drift, they picked that up as their stage names — the flyin' Demons. They were acrobats. All of 'em. But they upped and left their town years ago. Haven't seen 'em for… darn, gotta be nearly a decade now. More even." The man takes a swig. "All of 'em came from some little nest up in the hills, bordering on Zuko Forest. No-one goes up there anymore. Been abandoned ever since they left. Got some weird horror stories coming from adventurers lucky enough to make it back from up there. All sorts of real demons and spirits haunt those woods."
Mushi is listening very closely. Her eyes are locked on the man. But somehow she's not staring. She's just a nice girl indulging an older man's story. She nods at all the right places, makes sounds of interest. At the end of his account she shrugs and says, "Demons are just the names for people we can't explain yet. I've never met a demon that is immune to a good sock on the nose." She grips her gloved hand in demonstration, and gives the same cheeky smile he did." This is where she would say 'get this man another pint, on me.' But as she's getting everything for free, that wouldn't carry much weight. "Horror stories or not," she murmurs, leaning towards him, "we're aiming to find this boy's roots, so to speak. Any sage advice you'd give to two adventurous travelers?" She smirks.
"Don't go up there, missy." The man drawls as she leans closer, perhaps finding some sort of confidence, or under the delusion that this conversation is 'going somewhere'. "Dunno about demons, but I've seen some unnatural things up on that hill. Things that look human, but… aren't. Got tails. Huge ears." He shakes his head in mild disbelief. "Tell ya what. You stay here, drinkin' with me, I can take you home and we'll have our own adventures, if ya catch my drift." His smile broadens. "I got a place for the kid, too. He can stay in the lounge area."
Red has heard enough at this point. Though he wasn't entirely sure what the man wanted to do with Mushi, he was off of his chair and heading for the front door. They had their location, as far as he was concerned. Now they just needed to get there!
Mushi almost laughs at the man's proposal…almost. That's not the kind of advice that she was looking for. She's trying to think of a remark that's witty yet non-flirtatious, when Red heads for the door. She gives the man a helpless shrug. "Sorry but I have to go," she says. "My kid." She points to the departing Red. And moments later she'd be beside him, holding his hand. "You shouldn't just walk out without saying goodbye," she says. "He gave us some useful information." And if he'd done anything, she'd could've bent him around easily. And not the way he wanted either. They're outside and headed for Zuko Forest.
"People smelled funny in there." Red replies, wrinkling his nose. The change in temperature is quite a jolt to the system, the boy quivering just a bit in the crisp air. "I was just happy to get out in the fresh air." When the pair are on their way, Red trudges through the snow with gusto. Zuko Forest was a good hike up the mountain, but manageable by foot. "Zuko rings a bell for me, but… I dunno why we're even going up there. Do you think I still have family members living there? Do you think there are actually demons living on the hill and in the woods?"
"There aren't demons," Mushi says firmly. "Demons don't exist. There's ninjutsu that imitate demons, or illusions that cause people to see demons. But demons themselves are just fairy tail. Pretend stories." She sighs. Maybe it was good they go out of there. She can only take some much village gossip. And perverted old men. She considers flying Kirameki around the mountain. But this one sounds like it could turn out something genuine. Her 'let's see good ol' Snow Country' spirit kicks back in, and this time they're marching up the mountains.
"But how do you know for sure? Just because you haven't seen one, doesn't mean they don't exist. Right? That's what Dad always told me." Red huffs and puffs as the incline begins to sharpen, his cheeks turning red as blood is pumped around his body. "Maybe they're just scared of you, Mushi." Red murmurs with a small smile, looking up at the hill in front of them. There is a path worn into the village, with a few stairs visible in random places. But it looks well worn, as if it hadn't been used in years.
Mushi laughs. "Well…when I had the bijuu inside me they call it a demon," she says. "But they meant 'chakra demon.' I believe there's no such thing as demons because…I don't believe there's something out there that is evil by nature. Perhaps people can make it that way themselves. But would you want demons to exist? Something that has no chance to be good? I don't. Besides, I've been told a million times there are demons, only to go and see it's something ordinary. Scary, but no demon. Or maybe they are avoiding me. Heh." She ruffles Red's hair.
"Maybe they were scared of the bijuu inside you?" Red shrugs. "That man called said I had demon eyes. Do my eyes really look that weird? I hadn't even really thought about it before." The boy ponders a little, the pair continuing to go up the steps. The further they go, the more windy it gets. Though it's still safe, one certainly needs a degree of concentration to get up. "Maybe people can call me.. The Demon of the Snow! Haw haw!" The boy laughs, enjoying the sound of that. "You can be my loyal sidekick, like normal."
"You know, I'd be surprised if even a demon could tell there was something inside me. You didn't know when you met me, how could those demons." She sounds amused at the turn of this conversation. However, she frowns at the mention of his eyes being referred to as demonic. "That wasn't very nice, but he did mention those actors titled themselves that." She reaches out to punch Red in the shoulder. "Snowball, you're way too early to call me your sidekick." Though she supposes that most every kid is the main character in their own minds.
"Come on. Demons can see inside people! Even I know that Ow-hey!" Red laughs as he's punched in the shoulder. "I can't help it if you're always at my side, doing all the things to help." He laughs again, before looking up ahead. "When we get up to the village, we should have a good look around. I'm pretty excited."
And so up the two trudge, slowly yet surely heading for Zuko Forest and the now abandoned village that lays next to it.