Date: July 14, 2010
Datura has embarked on her new career as a "famous" dancer and singer as part of her Tao Shih mission! But it seems things are about to become a bit more complicated…
"Broken Memories Pt. 2 - Nightmare"
Bayashi-Hara - Land of Grass
The town of Bayashi-Hirai was already awake, business owners, craftsmen, and travellers alike all making ready to continue on about their day. Naturally, the largest topic of conversation being bandied about the town was the Lady Ryoko's performance last night, with those who had attended telling all about it to their friends. While Bayashi-Hirai was located along a major travel route through the western Land of Grass, and was thus a good hub of information for the entire western half of the country, it was still a small settlement, and didn't often see large performances. Though the Lady Ryoko was a previously unknown celebrity within the town, or at least she had been assumed to be a celebrity, the mass promotion of her show and the overtaking of the theatre for a week ahead of time for preparations had garnered much attention, and by the night of the show, the town's theatre had been sold out for two days.
It was now the morning after, and 'Lady Ryoko' was sleeping off both the efforts of her singing and dancing, to say nothing of the revelry that had extended far, far into the night at the hotel's restaurant. She was now upstairs in her room, the largest available, while her entourage occupied the rest of the floor. A night of encores, shmoozing, and pretending to be a pretty, benign, airheaded little thing had taken it's toll on the young blonde, and though the sun had moved off of the horizon, she had yet to stir from beneath satin sheets.
Long blonde hair spilled out over a too-soft down pillow, one of the only things sticking out from beneath the sheer sheet, which outlined the form of the rogue Yamanaka beneath it. The fingertips of her left hand were also visible, peeking out of the top of the covers, as was the end of her left foot, as she lay on her stomach, facing to her left. The sunlight was shining brightly through the windows, lighting the plush, almost opulent room, which contained a dresser, and armoire, a closet, and a vanity. The room was wider than it was long, and a door on one end led to a double-sized bathroom the size of most of the regular rooms, while the other one led to a sitting room/foyer, and then finally the door leading out.
The girl-shaped mound beneath the covers shifts a bit, a small sleepy murmur emanating from within it. Blue eyes arrive on the scene as they blink open, and a blonde head lifts, yawns, then shifts as Datura merely rolls onto her other side, deciding it wasn't yet time to stir from her nest. Her staff, as a rule, generally knew that premature wake-ups tended to make the aspiring starlet cranky. And when the starlet got cranky… bad things happened.
Normally, Amuro does not interfere with the sleeping schedules of others, unless said schedules are inconvenient for himself. And even then, in the case of the three main members of the Tao Shih's 'Core Team', Amuro tends to wait until each woman is ready and rested before confronting her with any potential business that needs to be attended to.
Not so today. As Datura lies in bed, and decides not to get up yet, the sunlight that is cast on the room, and potentially on Datura herself, is blotted out briefly by someone moving in front of the window. If Datura notices the shadow that passes over her for a moment, and looks in that direction, the source of the shadow is already gone — if it was ever even there. It might just be the 'brain fuzziness' of first waking up that made her imagine it…
But then an air current that does not come from outside — and yet rustles the curtains regardless, causing the draping cloth to bulge outwards as though to accomodate a human form — carries across the room until it reaches the bed. The sheets ripple in the chill breeze, gradually shifting and rising upwards until the currents reach the head of the bed… And then the extremely faint whisper of a certain female voice says in Datura's ear, "Ree-oh-koh-chan~… Time to wake up…"
While it was little more than an extended bit of groaning and yawning in the human language, in Datura's mind, she'd just instructed the maid to close the curtains. After all, who else would come into her room, other than one of the cleaning women? Most of her staff knew she would pitch a fit, and it certainly wouldn't be her manager, who knew exactly what she was capable of and who she worked for, and who's very survival was tied into her success. And yet the light keeps on shining through the windows, glaring brightly onto her face, which was now peeking out above the sheets, causing the blonde to scrunch her eyes up and frown unhappily as she rapidly moves from her half-asleep state to full wakefulness.
Datura turns her face into the pillows, trying to fight her way back to unconsciousness. But of course, the harder one fought to stay asleep, the more awake one was to become. Her skin goosefleshes and she gives a tiny shiver as cool air brushes over the thin sheets, which do little to protect her from the chill. If that damned maid had opened a freaking window, she was going to-
Blue eyes blink open, focusing on the right half of the room as a voice whispers in her ear. Her brow wrinkles in confusion, her lips turning into a pout that imitated a frown, an expression of frustrated confusion. Had she just been dreaming a moment ago? But if felt as if she were awake.
Pushing herself up onto one arm, sitting on a hip as her other hand clutches the sheets modestly, for once, around her chest, the young woman casts her blue-eyed gaze over each piece of the room, then into the open door leading into the bathroom beyond, and the other door which led into the sitting area. After a moment, she rolls her neck, then lets out an unstifled yawn.
"Nngh… No more chocolate before bed." Blaming her choice of late night snack on her strange imaginings, the genjutsuist turns a frown on the half-full bowl of candies on the nightstand as she reaches up to toussle her disarrayed hair.
The dripping of water suddenly becomes audible throughout the room. A small amount of water at first, but then the noise becomes louder shortly after the squeaking of the water levers in the bathroom are heard. The bathtub is apparently running. The gentle roar of rushing water makes it very clear that either the bath is automated, or there's someone else in the hotel room with Datura.
There's the sound of metallic jangling, and something heavy(ish) landing on the floor of the bathroom. After that, there is the sound of barely-audible humming of a high-enough pitch to indicate the hummer is a woman. The tune is cheerful, and soothing… And also something that Datura's mother used to hum to her daughters when they were still small children. Further, it's a tune that Datura may have heard a lot more recently than back then… Perhaps during a trip into a certain cave…
The sound of fabric rustling and being discarded onto the floor wars with the humming sounds and the water noises for the right to be heard for a moment. Whoever this humming woman is, she appears to finish undressing, because a few seconds later the sound of the faucet running gradually cuts off, and then there is the light splashing of someone getting into the tub.
The maid was cleaning the bathroom. The Yamanaka runaway pokes out her pinky finger after assuring herself that her hair was mostly tangle-free, sticking the small digit into her ear and twisting it around, as if trying to remove an obstruction. She could have sworn she'd heard… But the sound of quickly-running water cuts her off. The cleaning women did not need THAT much water to clean the bath tub! The sound of something hard hitting the floor causes her to scowl. Just how much noise was this woman going to make while a customer was sleeping!? Someone was about to be fired.
Slinging her feet over the side of the bed, Datura clutches the sheets about her shoulders like some sort of shrine robes, pulling them around her slender frame as she turns a dark look towards the bathroom, and takes a single step towards it. That's about whent he tune hits her ears, along with the sound of someone rather noisily undressing, pausing her in her steps. Her angry expression quickly turns wary, suspicious, even as she reaches for the nightstand, plucking up a kunai from the pouch she kept there.
Her clothes were in a chair across the room, but taking the time to dress might prove a mistake, so instead she tucks the satin sheet about herself, turning it into an overly-large toga, before she begins creeping towards the bathing room.
Just as the sound of someone entering the pool of water emanates from the room, the blonde-haired kunoichi is surveying the room from just beyond the doorway, using the large mirror above the sink. She eases into the room, kunai at the ready.
"No one was to come into my room. Explain yourself!"
Looking in the mirror, Datura would see that there is what appears to be ninja gear and clothing on the floor of the bathroom, including a belt with a tool pouch, and so forth. Sitting in the bathtub with her back to the door, is a teenager with long blonde hair the same shade as Datura's own. It is wet and slicked down.
In answer to Datura, the young woman says cheerfully, "Aa, Imouto-chan! Excellent timing. Did you want to take a bath too?" The voice is definitely that of Yamanaka Riku. There are a pair of dull thumping noises, first one, then a second one, that seem to vaguely echo in the enclosed space, like someone's music with the bass turned up too loud. Riku says, "Come on in, Imouto-chan. You can help me wash my back! I can't seem to reach properly…"
Once again faced with her sister's countenance, Datura scowls. This time, however, she wasn't in a cave that took it's toll on reality and seemingly bent it to it's will. This was her hotel room, not an underground labyrinth in which an unspeakable horror had been birthed and slowly took shape. Blue eyes narrow on the vision of her sibling as her grip shifts slightly on her kunai. She certainly could have used a bath, her stomach was still a little sticky from where a drink had spilled upon it, but this was hardly the time!
"I'll take no baths with strangers. I don't know who you are, or why you're trying to look like that, but if you're hoping I'll drop my guard I'll be happy to disappoint you."
The tub was certainly big enough to fit the two of them, plus four more, and the warm soaps and heated water… but no! Shaking the last bit of sleep-grogginess from her head, as if that might banish the sight of her murdered sibling, Datura licks her lips, looking behind her, assuring herself that it was just her and her 'sister' here in the room. From the corner of her eye, she keeps watch on the room beyond through the mirror, even as her blue-eyed gaze bores into features that were so like her own.
"Enough of this silly game. If you think I won't attack you simply because you wear that guise, you're very, very wrong. Who are you, and how do you know who I am?"
One of Konoha's spies who's managed to divine the truth? Had those imbeciles finally managed to figure it out after these past years? She had to believe it was someone henged, for if this was a genjutsu, then she's already lost the fight.
Again there are those two dull thumping noises, and this time there is a muffled noise like someone's voice speaking from underneath something. Water maybe? Hard to tell, and it's not quite as imperative as the immediate situation. The girl in the water, with her back still to Datura is silent for a few seonds and then says, "Did you think you would get away that easily?" This might seem to confirm Datura's suspicion of it being a Konohagakure ninja come to capture her or something. But the next words may change that. "Did you think you could just 'dispose' of your sister with no consequences, and then walk right out of her grasp simply because she loved you too much take revenge?"
If this is a Konoha ninja then she (or he) appears to know at least some of what happened in Ankoku Cave. This probably means one of two things: Either this person is a mind-reading ninja of some kind, or she wasn't as alone in her encounter with that ghost/fragment/hallucination as she thought she was. On the other hand, there is the distinct possibility this is not a Konoha ninja at all. This idea is reinforced when Riku's voice continues on coldly, with no sign of the cheer, compassion, or sadness that the fragment of Riku had shown in the cave. "'If you love her, set her free'. Isn't that the way it goes? But forgiving you won't set >me< free." The bitterness and hate in her tone is probably not something that Datura has ever heard in her sister's voice before.
"Maybe it took love to get you out of that damnable cave, but it also let >me< latch onto you. And I'm not going to let go until I've dragged you down into the darkness too." As she speaks, something red starts billow under the bath water's surface, like ink almost. But it's far too vivid to be ink. Trickling noises fill the silence after that promise/threat of retribution. "Imouto-chan… Help me!" her voice is different now. Pained and pleading. "Ryoko—what are you…?" And then there is a sickening crunching noise, and the girl's head jerks back. The previously small trickle of blood into the water becomes a rush like a small waterfall. The bath water rapidly turns dark red. Then Riku turns her torso slightly, and her head starts to ratchet around slowly, jerkingly, stutteringly, like the muscles in her neck are spasming at an accelerated rate.
When she finally faces Datura, her features are non-existent. They've been mashed to a pulp. Then she >screams<. "RYOKO! STOP! STOP IT!" Then she just screams and pleads, even with no mouth left to scream with, and puts the arm that isn't broken over the edge of the tub, beginning the struggle to climb out with only one functional limb, and many broken bones. Her spine, previously straight is now twisted, with the sharp edges of shattered vertebrae sticking out through torn skin. The bloody water rises and rises until it spills over onto the floor.
And all through the screams, that dull thumping continues in the background, no longer coming in pairs, but instead repeatedly, in a steady stream. A different voice, a male one, is also yelling something almost intelligible, something that sounds like 'Lady Ryoko!' over and over. Then the door into the hotel room's foyer bursts open noisily, slamming against the wall. A member of hotel staff comes rushing into the bedroom behind Datura, running up to her and asking more clearly, "Lady Ryoko! Are you alright? Lady Ryoko?" The screams terminate abruptly. Where once the broken body of Yamanaka Riku was dragging itself across the bathroom floor through pools of blood, now there is simply an empty bathroom. No water, no blood, no clothing… And no Riku. The hotel worker dares to place a hand tentatively on Datura's shoulder and shake her if she fails to respond. "Lady Ryoko? We heard yelling. Are you alright?"
The blue eyes narrow to slits as those fateful words come to pass. 'Did you think you would get away that easily?' Words she'd been waiting to hear for several years now, words she'd expected to be followed by the arrival of no less then four or more shinobi each wearing Leaf Village forehead protectors. And yet no Leaf-nin come crashing through the hotel windows. Datura's brows draw down low over her nose.
"What are you- You're not my sister."
The chord of hate within her voice confirmed that. After all, Riku was kind, even to her enemies. Everyone loved her, adored her, her skill, her beauty, her compassion, and caring. Everyone loved her, and as long as she lived, Ryoko would have never been anything other than 'Riku's little sister', the smaller, unnoticed version which paled in comparison to the real thing.
"I never wanted forgiveness! You deserved it! You deserved ALL of it! I wish I could have made you suffer MORE!"
It's the disgusting crunching noise of rock meeting bone that brings the younger Yamanaka out of her maddening rant, her face twisted with hatred and denial, otherwise appealing features made ugly with jealousy. She jerks instinctively back at the sound, and at those that follow, with the rub soon beginning to fill up with her sister's blood. The macabre scene plays out even as the blonde-haired kunoichi backpedals in disgust, and, despite herself, growing horror. What she'd done to her sister, she didn't regret. She couldnt'. She mustn't. But she had no wish to relive it.
Even as her sister begs and pleads for the horrible abuse to stop, beginning to crawl her way out of the bathing pool, across the floor, a macabre caricature of broken human form, the kunai falls limply from Datura's fingers, sticking into the floor, missing her foot by mere inches. She backs up, slipping over the edge of her sheet, back-crawling like a crab out of the bathroom door even as her sister comes for her.
When the hand touches her shoulder, the woman snaps out of her trance, having been sitting in the doorway, staring with wide, frightened eyes at where her torn and bloodied sister was. The arms which supported her were shaking, her entire body trembling, and her face was even paler than it usually was, her breathing ragged. It takes a moment for the male's face and voice to register in her eyes and ears.
"I…" When her voice fails her, Lady Ryoko licks her lips, swallows, and tries again, managing a weak smile. "I… fell. I need… I need my clothes. They were being washed." Sucking in a deep, healing breath, the kunoichi centers herself, closing her eyes momentarily. When she opens them again, she holds out a hand to be helped up, managing a more confident smile, one of practiced shyness and modesty. "Can you have them brought up?"
The man nods, understanding dawning on his face. In a concerned voice, he says, "Of course, Lady Ryoko. I will have them brought up immediately. Are you alright, though? Should I call for a doctor?" He does his best to help 'Lady Ryoko' back to her feet, making sure not to touch anywhere intimate or to really do any more touching than is necessary to assist her. Wouldn't do to get himself fired for offending this famous performer!
Once he is certain that Datura is settled somewhere comfortable, where there is no chance of her falling again, he moves to depart, either to get the clothes and a doctor, or just the clothes, depending on the answer provided him. But then he pauses in the foyer, beyond the bedroom door, so that he's not seeing Lady Ryoko in an indecent state. "—Oh, Lady Ryoko, the reason I had come up here originally was that you have a visitor. A 'Tokugawa Amuro', he said his name was. I tried to tell him that you were not to be disturbed but, he… he…" He trails off suddenly, and then continues in a flat monotone, "…He >has< to see you…" Then a moment later, he continues in a confused, but normal, tone, "At… Any rate, he is in the hall outside. I will inform Tokugawa-san that you are awake now." Then he leaves the hotel room completely, shutting the door behind him.
Datura uses her other hand to tug the sheets up higher, covering the cleavage she had been showing since her mad scramble from the bathroom as she's helped to her feet. She smiles benignly, a bright, winning thing, as she smooths the satin over her skin and brushes her hair back away from her eyes with her fingers, shaking her head slightly to indicate that summoning the physician was not necessary.
"No, thank you. I think I was more startled than anything."
Even as the male hovers protectively over her as if she were made of precious jade, the young blonde seats herself on the edge of the bed, allowing him to depart with a gracious, grateful nod-and-smile. She sucks in a ragged breath as he moves out of the bedroom, running a still-trembling hand through her hair, interrupted as he speaks of his original mission for coming to disturb her slumber. At first, she opens her mouth to tell him to have whoever it was sent away, wanting no part of anyone near her at current. After hearing the name, she lets out a small sigh of disappointment.
"Very well. Give me a few moments to become decent before you send him in, won't you?"
After the man has departed, the kunoichi stands, holding one of the posts of the bed for support as she walks towards the armoire. She tugs open the door, reaching within. The sheets are finally allowed to slip from her shoulders and off of her slender form, being tossed carelessly back onto the bed. In it's place, she pulls out a sheer kimono, red silk, coming down to just below mid-thigh, tying a sash about her waist and adjusting it to be modestly closed. The mini-closet is shut back once more, Datura's bare feet whispering across the carpet as she approaches the vanity.
The young woman seats herself on the small cushioned seat before it, looking at her reflection in the mirror for several long moments. After what seemed an eternity of silent staring, she reaches for her hair brush, waiting in the quiet room for her visitor to be shown in.
Only after Datura has begun to brush her hair does the door open again, this time to admit a much larger individual. From the heavy sound of boots, even on the soft carpet, this is not a young host-body for Amuro's memories. This is the original. He pauses at the bedroom door, managing to locate Datura even with that mask that has no eyeholes. He stands silently for several seconds until either Datura speaks, or he finally decides to do so himself. Either way, the first thing he says is, "You appear unwell. Did you sleep poorly?"
The brush whispers through her hair, the girl manipulating it like an expert, disentangling knots that a night in bed, brushing up against a pillow had created. As the door to the foyer opens, Datura's blue eyes flick towards it's reflection in the mirror, just able to see the edge of the portal. But then, she didn't have to see all of Amuro to know that it was him, actually him and not a clone, just a glimpse of his height was certainly enough to confirm that it was her employer who had come to see her today.
She remains silent, returning her eyes to her own reflection, waiting for the male to tell her whatever news, orders, or change of plans he had come to deliver. But the first thing out of his mouth isn't quite what she expected. If she didn't know better, he almost sounded concerned! As thanks, she picks up a powder compact from the top of the vanity, turns, and flings it at him with a dark scowl.
"The first thing you tell a woman in the morning is that she looks like crap!? What a vile thing to say. Mind your manners when you are admitted into a woman's bed chambers."
With a huff, she turns back towards the mirror, beginning to brush the other side of her hair, untangling the yellow strands from their disorganized state and back into the shimmering, golden curtain it was most often seen in.
"I was sleeping just fine. Until someone decided to intrude upon that time with an untimely visit."
Amuro is silent as the powder compact hits the base of his robe and bounces off onto the floor. He doesn't even look down at it. Instead, he just says, "Very well, I will make this quick then. When we visited Ankoku Cave, there was an >entity< within — a presence, with a very non-human intellect. It was composed of the Yin-aspect of Chakra, with the hate and evil of all humankind imprinted on it. I have sealed it away, with the assistance of the others in our group."
The tall man is silent for a moment, and then he gets to the point. "But you were not with us when that happened. You did not appear until after the battle was concluded. Where were you and what were you doing before you rejoined the group?" He quickly adds on, "And think >carefully< about your answer, if you would."
"Yes, yes, all the hate and horrible things about humanity rolled up into one big ball of evil and trapped underground. So you got what you were after? Thank the heavens for small favors, then."
Seemingly unconcerned with the mention of the beast that the rest of the party had fought, the blonde finishes with a final stroke of the brush's teeth, setting the wood-handled haircare implement down so that she could better inspect her own reflection. She turns her head this way and that, at different angles, ensuring that her hair was back to it's usual shiny-coated golden mass, catching the rays of sunlight that poured through the windows. It's a long, silent moment as she straightens the sleeping kimono about her shoulders and frowns into the mirror before answering.
"I'm not used to being underground. I… I thought I heard something. Saw something. I stepped off the path to investigate, but it turned out to be nothing. At least, nothing I could find." She lifts a shoulder casually as she finally turns from the looking-glass to look at the male's mask directly. "By the time I turned back, all of you were gone. It took some time for me to track you all down, apparently just in time to miss all the fun. Hmm… oh well. What I find odd was that I was right behind you, ahead of the others. How did no one notice I'd fallen behind? I think whatever was down there may have been attempting to separate us before a confrontation."
She looks away with a scowl, as if admitting she'd fallen for a ploy stung her pride, even if it was a lie. "Apparently I am the only one who fell for it's tricks."
Amuro stays silent throughout the explanation. Then he stays silent afterwards. Finally, he offers a neutral, "Hmm…" Then more silence. And >then< he says, "What I was looking for was a way to remove the Chakra Beast from its lair, and place it somewhere it would not be a danger to others. If left untended to, it could have grown to be a threat greater than any of the Tailed Beasts… Pehraps even great enough to endanger the future of life itself. Imagine, for instance, a war not between nations or Villages or any other organized group, but instead between every individual. A non-stop war of 'omnicide', fuelled by a mix of fear and hate, which would not end until every last being capable of drawing breath had ceased to do so."
He shrugs. "But it has been sealed now, so that is not a danger at the moment. My concern was that what >should< be the undiluted essence of human malice is not 100% pure. It has been corrupted. My technique was not flawed. I sealed it perfectly, and my previous studies showed it to be pure evil. So I began to wonder just what might have managed to corrupt something that is corruption itself? How was this… 'Impurity' introduced without me noticing? No one present at the battle altered the Chakra Beast in a way that would change its nature… And yet the Chakra Beast was tied to the entire cave to some extent. So it is possible something that occurred >elsewhere< in the cave might have provided this seed of 'good'."
More silence. "You are not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of 'goodness', Datura. But I had to be certain that Ankoku Cave had not somehow >stolen< something from you, or had something of yours >given< to it." He turns around to face the sitting room. "If such >had< happened, then I would have to wonder if perhaps the cave put a piece of >itself< inside of you in exchange." He turns his head briefly to say, "But it appears this is not the case, based on your answer. Good luck with your mission."
"So you're saying this thing was your ticket to great power, but something happened that has prevented you from using it? Maybe it's just that- What do you mean, 'I have no goodness'!? I can act caring and compassionate when I choose to. Your rudeness does you no credit."
The blonde folds her arms under her chest as she leans back against the vanity, as the seat she was currently in had no back to lean against itself. But as he turns, presumably to begin his departure with a few final words of farewell, the teenaged kunoichi darts to her feet, taking two quick steps forward, her fingers entwining in front of her.
"W-Wait! You said that you'd sealed this thing someplace where it couldn't hurt anyone. Where did you put it? I mean… if you locked it away, it could find a way back out, couldn't it? To try and jumpstart your portending doomsday prediction. Did you put it somewhere you can call it back down on your enemies? It seems an awful lot of power for you to simply… lock away."
Amuro remains where he is, unmoving. "…If I wished to unseal it, I could, though it would be a very involved process. Is there power to be had? Certainly. But is it worth it to try to use such a force, even in only a small part, if the risk is losing everything that matters? I do not believe so. In its present state, it is too dangerous to be trusted in the hands of >anyone<. Myself included." A pause and then, "Why do you ask?"
"Well…" Datura doesn't bother to hide her small blanche, as the male was facing the opposite way, anyway, and didn't have the benefit of a mirror with which to study her. She scrambles quickly to find a plausible enough reason for her question. "I simply wished to know what you intend to do with it. To leave it locked away with no hope of recovery, this does not seem like you. Whatever your plans for it, I suppose are no concern of mine. But…"
She gestures vaguely in the air, turning away, adopting her usual air of indifference for anything that wasn't laid out right before her, a habit often attributed to youth anyway, and to her in particular. "If a piece of it may have gotten loose because you messed something up, I was thinking we may need the rest of it to fight the thing with. But then, how big could one piece grow? This thing is not a starfish, is it? It's locked away, and will trouble us no more. Likely it simply had properties to it that you didn't count on, and that could explain the anomaly."
Datura retakes her seat at the vanity, leaning close as she studies herself, reaching up to pull down on the skin around her eyes, as if she were assuring herself she was not old enough to have wrinkles yet, before giving a shrug.
"Send in one of the maids with towels on your way out, please. The little red-headed one with the freckles. I'm so in need of a bath."