Date: July 2, 2013
Akina returns to give her childhood home a second look over with Keiji in tow only to find a surprise awaiting.
"Buried In The Sand - Stolen Home"
Within the northern deserts
It is another day in the Sunagakuran desert. In this place of heat and sand, time nearly seems to loop, each day looking the same as the last even as each dune looks the same as the next. An endless wind blows through land molding the features of the sand hills, the warmth of it doing nothing to soothe the heat of any who'd be unfortunate enough to have to feel it's caress. It is hard to think that anything of worth could've survived the harshness of the terrain and remained unburied.
And just like before, not even a week before, Akina travels through the desert by day, cloaked against the wind and heat as she takes a long, misleading trek between dunes. Making sure that should there be anyone tailing herself and Keiji that they would be quickly lost. The hours blend together, however it appears the young girl knew where she was going regardless of there being no distinguishable landmarks. Then abruptly, Akina climbs downwards along the side of a steep dune, sand trailing behind her as she turns inward into what appears to be the hidden entrance of a cave with a door the same color as the sand itself, allowing it to blend in with the surroundings.
Keiji followed behind Akina through the desert. He was not worried about someone tailing them. His dark pupils focus on her as she seems to know the route by heart. There are no words from him. For now he lets her concentrate. The scrolls had been taken and they meant a lot to her. He did not know the thoughts going through her head, nor did he wish to interrupt them. He did however ponder why they had to travel above ground in that of so hated sun.
This time, there would be a greeting for Akina when she returned home. Though it wouldn't exactly be one she would consider pleasant or welcoming. Attached to the front of the sand colored door hidden in a dune is a piece of paper, held to the surface by the senbon stabbed through the thing. Written on the paper were the words 'Don't Come Back' in black ink. There were no other markings or hints or explanations.
Welcome home, Akina.
At the sight of the senbon embedded in the door Akina comes to an abrupt stop, likely causing Keiji to run into her from behind if only for a moment. Then with a quick step, she reaches up to snap the piece of parchment off of the door, her shoulders visibly tensing as she curls her fingers and crushes the note in her hand. They knew who she was, and they knew that she was already here once. Whoever they were.
This place isn't safe any more.
Akina shakes her head hard once as she throws the piece of paper aside, reaching for the doorknob and with some effort, manages to open the door, leading them inside.
Keiji stopped before the door. He saw the paper attached with the senbon. He could not read it, but he had an idea what it was. As she stopped, Keiji longed to look at her face. He wanted to read her thoughts. The act of her tossing the paper aside seemed to spell it out for him though. He follows her inside and glances around. His eyes still needed a moment to adjust. They had been covered during the day, but now in the darkness they could truly see what they were meant to. However he did not need them to know someone did not want them there.
Everything is gone.
The furs that had once served as Akina and her father's bedding, gone; The pile of stone carving her father had crafted by hand, gone; 'The Library' where he had kept his scrolls, gone; The corpse, gone — Even the markings on the walls, the stone where she had scratched out her first words, it was smoothed away, the engravings seemingly simply wiped clean, as though she hadn't lived a portion of her life here with her father. As though that childhood had never existed.
Everything. Every mark, every memory, every hint that she even existed in this place was just gone. Erased completely away. The sheer shock she felt was hidden behind her mask as Akina staggers and eventually falls onto her knees, staring with utter and complete disbelief. Any clue that may have been left behind was gone now. "'Don't come back'," she mumbles. There really was no reason to now. There wasn't anything to come back for. It was like they took her father away from her all over again. "This isn't home any more…"
Keiji glanced around at the cavern. His dark pupils took in how neat the place had been made. It was nothing like Akina had described it. There was a single flaw. On the ceiling of the cavern was a tab. Like a corner of some sort. As Keiji moved up the wall, he spotted it was paper. Keiji pulled the camoflauge paper away to reveal another note. He tried to read it, but the ink and the paper seemed to be the same color. That is if there was ink at all. "I think I found something Akina." She seemed to be losing hope.
Akina takes a few purposeful breaths, though it was an even longer moment before she can manage to push herself to her feet. "Did you…" she replies, a hand on the closest wall as she glances over her shoulder at where Keiji was. Pulling a small piece of paper from the ceiling. An odd place to stick paper. Staring at it for a long moment, Akina glances back up at the ceiling where he got it from. "Get the paper wet." she murmurs. "It should change the color of the paper from the ink and make it more readable." She was still staring up at the ceiling when she says this. "Why is it up there though? Do you think… they came in through the earth from there?"
Water touched the simple note from Keiji's canteen dampening it in the teenager's hands before he passed it off. Unfortunately, that didn't change the fact that it was simply too dark in this cavern to make out the writing on the slip found under the camouflage paper on the ceiling. Even if one couldn't yet glean anything from from the message, Keiji would find that he learned a lot more from the pulse of chakra that he sent off into the stone surrounding him and the sand surrounding that. The first thing that'd become apparent would be that there was someone approaching the place. From the east, a single person, walking over the sands towards the cavern holding the pair. The second thing that might interest him would be that he's getting readings of a body standing -inside- of the cavern with the pair, off to the side, despite nothing being visible when looking in the space the tremor sense indicates.
After Keiji pours a bit of water on the paper and holds it out for her to take, Akina reaches for it and plucks it between her fingers, studying it quietly to watch if the water would change the color of the paper just enough for the ink to become apparent. It was a guess. If this didn't work, she had another trick in mind to use. Behind her mask Akina lifts her dark eyes up at Keiji while he inspects the smooth, stone floor, silent for a longer moment still before looking up at the ceiling again. Really she doubted that there was anything left to be found. The place was already cleaned out.
After reading the chakra recieved from the tremor sense jutsu, Keiji's eyes travelled to the location within the cavern that was showing chakra signatures. "We are not alone Akina. Someone is heading this way. Someone else seems to have been watching us." Keiji then reaches into his uniform and takes out a kunai. He throws it in the spot where the jutsu had indicated the other person was. If something was camoflauged, the kunai would draw it out into moving.
The kunai would streak through the air, it's travel swift, path unerring. And then it stopped. Dead in the air, as though time around it had simply ceased, leaving it stuck in between moments. And then a person appeared. Around the kunai, the shippodoku female's body took form, a look of shock washing over her features. She is wearing sand colored robes, her blood staining her chest red. Slowly, she looks down to the weapon sticking out of her body and reaches towards it, stumbling backwards a step.
Akina instinctively snaps her eyes up, following the direction where Keiji is looking and narrowing her gaze at that spot in the wall. Carefully folding the piece of paper, she tucks it into a hidden pocket in her sleeve as she curls her fingers into her metal pincers there, stealthily preparing for the worse. Keiji throws the kunai and when it stops suddenly in midair, she blinks with some surprise at the sight of it for a longer moment still, until the figure appears. Her expression hardens under her mask as Akina curls her fingers tighter into her weapon and pulls it smoothly from her sleeve. "This is starting to seriously get on my nerves… Every last one of you." the girl growls.
Now that the kunai had stopped and the spectator was revealed, Keiji rushed towards to the female Shippodoku. He was trying to smash her into the wall. "You have two options. You can start telling me what you know, or I can kill you slowly." He knew the assassin was likely here hunting down Shamans. Keiji wanted to know where the scrolls were taken. If he had to he would break every single bone in her body, saving the vital ones for last. "By my count you have less than two minutes to tell me what you know."
The woman looks up with her wholly black eyes as Keiji rushes at her, only looking in time to make eye contact as the other slams her against the wall, making her grunt out the air in her chest. Her eyes had trouble focusing on the boy after that, gaze vague for a few moments before slowly sharpening and landing on the Akina past the arm of the person holding her against the wall. Her eyes narrow, zoning in on her.
Akina tenses, but doesn't react as Keiji slams into the Shippodoku kunoichi, issuing dark threats and an ultimatum. She keeps her narrowed eyes on her, watching as it appears as if the woman was having difficulty focusing on Keiji. "I think your kunai hit too true." she murmurs to him, just as the kunoichi looks past him to meet her eyes. While her expression is masked, Akina feels herself harden. Claw at her side, she takes a few steps closer, gaze locked on hers. "Who are you. Why are you here."
Drawing his pincered finger back, Keiji prepares to stab the female Shippodoku with it. "Since you are unable to comply with my request, let them know in the next world that Shippodoku Keiji sent you there." without moving his eyes from his target, Keiji starts to speak to Akina. "The other one will be here momentarily." He has yet to plunge his finger towards her, but the threat was already given.
The shippodoku intruder's lips part and curl around a few words, but no sound leaves them, no air leaving her. Indeed, she hadn't yet managed to draw a breath since the she'd come into view around the kunai embedded in her body. She narrows her eyes at Akina before her gaze shifts to Keiji… no… over his… they roll up into the top of her head, her legs no longer holding her up. She begins to collapse.
"How do we even know if the other one is with this one?" Akina asks, also keeping her dark eyes fixed solely on the kunoichi he keeps pinned. Her shoulders subtly tense as the intruder tries to speak, though no sound comes out. Not even a moment after the body becomes lax and she appears to pass out. "Great…" she grumbles. "Is she dead or just unconscious?"
"I think she is dead." Keiji states as he looks towards Akina. "That must have been a novice level assassin. No real assassin would let that happen. Any smart one would move and fight. Now we need to find out who else is out here." Keiji then prepares for the next person to come in. Anyone out this far knew something was here. They were not out there by accident.
The woman hadn't died yet. But judging by the blood starting to seep from the corner of her mouth and the pool that was beginning to spread at Keiji's feet, it really wouldn't take too much longer for that to change. Her eyes were closed and her skin was become dusky, ashen even, a pallid pallor not sitting well with her features. She was clearly unconscious, too far gone to even shift off of her satchel, despite the entirely uncomfortable position it put her into. And as for the other person who'd been walking towards this bunker, they hadn't stopped in yet. As far as could be seen, the door hadn't even been touched yet.
Akina narrows her gaze behind her mask as she looks from Keiji to the girl as she slumps on the floor, the pool of blood quickly forming. A longer moment passes before she scowls to herself and quickly shakes her head, moving into action. "Take her satchel and search through it. Keep your eye on the other one." she murmurs, voice hardened as she kneels over the konoichi. Ripping off the sleeve from the assassin's clothing, she folds it over in her hands before her other hand wraps around the kunai. Then, in once swift motion she pulls it out and presses the cloth against the wound. "I don't want her dead…" she growls. "I want answers." It was an excuse. She may want to kill whoever it was that took her father's scrolls but this person, whoever it was, may or not be related to the matter. The kunoichi was still Shippodoku. Still blood, warrior sect or not. "I'm not a very good Shippodoku…" Akina mutters to herself.
"Yes Ma'am." Keiji states as he reaches down and looks into the satchel. He taskes a brief look through it to find… herbs. "Wait!" he yells towards Akina as she moves to pull the kunai from the girl's body. He quickly reaches down to the wound. His hand starts to glow with chakra. He was not sure if he would be able to save her. "Take a look in the satchel."
His hand forces chakra into the wound. It was an attempt to mend things. He quickly places the other hand on her. His chakra seeping in to find out what exactly is damaged. "Akina. I am not sure who this is, but I may not be able to save her." Now the glowing hand focuses on the area. He had hit something vital.
The removed Kunai is accompanied by a short burst of blood, the cloth against the wound stemming the tide only for brief moments, soon becoming saturated and useless in the attempt to do any good. She was far beyond the aid of a rag, having needed the help of medical ninjutsu to come through this wound and trauma. And it seems that Keiji has stepped into provide that, his hand growing wet and warm with blood as it touches to the wound, sending chakra into it. The bleeding does slow, perhaps even stop, but it's grown too late by now. Too much blood lost and too little energy given to replace it. She gives no death rattle but her muscles do fall fully slack, death taking her from this cavern. Yet another body with no true explanation of how it got here.
Pressing firmly on the wound with the makeshift bandage, Akina blinks her dark eyes up at Keiji as he takes the quick step, hands glowing as he presses them to the wound in an obvious attempt to heal it. Her gaze narrows at him through the mask as she shifts her attention to the satchel. So while he tries to heal the mysterious kunoichi, Akina bends her knees and pulls the satchel closer to her on the floor as she begins searching through it. Vials and bottles of herbs, roots, and other familiar dried animal parts. Her stomach clenches unpleasantly with the realization that she's a shaman as well. "What in kami's name was she doing here…" Lifting her gaze up at the kunoichi, Akina tenses as she sees her become lax and still from death.
In the world of shinobi there are times where two and two do not seem to equal four. Right now it hardly even equalled two in Keiji's eyes. The young mednin withdraws his hands as it is obvious it is too late. Now the fear for the worst sets in. Could this have been one of those names on the locket Akina showed him? Was this maybe a sister or a step mother? Either way, he just killed
someone that probably should not have died. For some, where there is death there will always be death. The question in Keiji's mind was did she truly have to die? He did not toss the kunai too hard, but there were places on the body that did not require force to kill.
"Forgive me Akina. I have a feeling that this was someone close to you." Keiji states as he uses his bloodied hand to close her eyes. He leaves a trail of blood over them. She was Shippodoku. Her eyes revealed that story. She had some training to camoflauge herself, but no taijutsu training. His eyes scan her body looking for a pincer. After a moment he remembers the other coming towards the cavern. "Check her over. Try to find a locket or something that might identify her." His eyes scanned the body looking for an age. If she was older than Akina there was little chance she was a sister. If she was younger…
Just like that his attention is turned elsewhere. Keiji places his hand down to the floor once more. He was checking the location of the next person. Perhaps they might be able to provide more answers. His mind now racing on how to deal with this person without killing them.
The woman's body would hold no forms of identification on her. All she had were the robes and her undergarments. In the satchel, after enough digging through the various herbs and such used for the shamanistic art, one would find a small picture. Hand drawn — horribly, ineptly, in a manner of a child. It depicted a scorpion under the moon.
As for the other person that Keiji had earlier sensed, a second look through the use of chakra through the earth showed that the person was much, much closer. But they weren't in the ground. In actuality, it seemed that they weren't even approaching. They seem to have passed over the dunes that hide this place, continuing on in the general direction of Sunagakure itself.
Keiji glances back towards Akina. "It appears that the person is heading through the area towards Sunagakure. I will leave it up to you if you want me to engage them." he states. His eyes then scan the cavern. He was attempting to use his Shippodoku sight to find any clues that could have possibly been left in the darkness. This girl was no longer as valueable a clue as she had been before. Her age seemed to be that of a woman. She was older than Akina. She seemed to be a Shaman. It did not make a lot of sense. There had to be other clues somewhere else here. Maybe signs one of the warrior sect had been through here. At least then he had a few leads that he could shake down.
"We don't even know who she is." Akina murmurs, straightening herself and after a pause to collect herself she silently obeys. She reluctantly searches through the body for anything that may identify her in any way. No papers, no jewelry, nothing but a couple of crude drawings and the herbs that were in the satchel. "I don't understand at all why she was here in the first place… how she found this hut…" Akina shakes her head hard as she pulls her bloodied hands away, fingers curling tightly into fists. "We need to give her a proper burial."
Keiji nodded his head. He moved down and picked up the body. "Tell me where you would like her buried." He had a jutsu that he would use that would just allow the earth to swallow the body whole. Being as it was not an enemy, he'd not use the next jutsu that crushed the body. "Lets go outside and find out what that piece of paper says." He was hoping that maybe in the light, a message would be easier to decipher.
"Outside, next to the hut." Akina murmurs. She didn't want to forget this woman. She died needlessly, and she didn't deserve to be forgotten either. With Keiji's help they're able to carry the body outside and set her just to the side of the front door. After she straightens her back, exhaling softly as she reaches into her sleeve and pulls it out, unfolding it with her thumb. While keeping a careful eye on their surroundings, Akina narrows her gaze on the small piece of paper that Keiji had discovered.
| | | |
| | If you were smart | |
|_| enough to find this, |_|
._. why weren't you smart ._.
| | enough to search | |
|_| the vent? |_|
| | ________________________ | |
|_| /_____/_____/_____/______/ |_|
Keiji shakes his head as he gets a glance at the note. He moves out into the sand a bit before placing the body down. After a few steps back his hands form two different hand seals and the earth beneath the sand reaches upwards to pull the body beneath it. "This should not have been this way. Find peace in your eternal slumber." His eyes then focus on Akina. "Shall we go check the vent?" he asks.
Both she and Keiji read over the note, though her blood boils and Akina quickly curls her fingers to crush the note in her hand. Whoever it was that placed the note there on the ceiling was mocking her, saying that she was stupid. And it was Keiji that had found the piece of paper originally, so maybe she was. That's what ticked her off to no end. Between that and the innocent life that was lost… Akina shakes her raven head quickly and drops the paper, "Yes, but I'm doubting there's anything there now if we found a note like that." she mutters.
Keiji moves back inside the building and searches the walls until he finds the actual vent. He is very careful when opening it. He did not need to see Akina's face to know she was upset. "Calm down Akina. Lets see what clue we find next." he states as he takes a look inside the vent. He was unsure if he would find a clue or if he'd find some of the scrolls that Akina's father had made.
It was precisely as Akina had expected. The vent would be opened to show even an absence of the granules of sand that always managed to invade the ventilation. If there had been anything there before whomever had left the note swept in and cleaned this place out, it wasn't there now.
"'Calm down'…" Akina murmurs, spitting the words as if they were curse words. Her fingers curl into a fist at her side as she follows him side, only to get a reminder just what all she's lost today. "My life has been literally wiped from every inch of the home that I grew up in, where my father raised me and passed away. A possibly innocent Shaman has been killed, and either one or two different groups are aware of my existence and not only a very real threat but mocking my intelligence. Not to mention I still haven't found out where my father's scrolls are or who took them." It took all of a breath for Keiji to look through the vent and discover that indeed, it was empty. She stares up at it for a horrified moment. Whatever was inside could have been from her father. A valuable piece of his existence. "How can this day get any worse…"
Keiji turns away from the vent. She was right. He moves over and wraps his arms around her. He was going to give her a hug if she wanted it or not. "Yes, this has been a horrible day. Your sanctuary has been stained. I killed an innocent. The assassins know of your existance and we are no closer to finding your father's scrolls than before. If anything we are further away. I am sorry for bringing you back here." He squeezes her in his tight embrace. "This is not over and I think I know a few other leads. Give me time. Hunting assassins is not always the quickest work." he states.
While Akina accepts the embrace, her tense form doesn't move. "No, this isn't over." she murmurs lightly, pulling away. "And that's what I'm afraid of." They had been so careful, the whole time she's lived in Sunakagure. She just couldn't understand how it was that her scrolls were even found, how her identity was even found out. Her stomach churns unpleasantly as Akina turns towards the door. "Lets get going… I have something else to show you at home…"