Date: January 11, 2015
This missing nin, Renai no Kirigakure, says her farewells to Eremi and surrenders to the Mizukage near the coast of the Land of Fire.
Harbor Path, Land of Fire
No trees are seen here; instead it is replaced with desert plants and cactus. The smell of the great ocean beyond touches on the sky giving on obvious hints that one is nearing closer to the ocean. Further to the east the Fire Ferry Docks are seen in the distance.
East - (E) [Fire Ferry Docks]
West - (W) [The Great River Bridge]
The slight form of Renai walks quietly down the Harbor Path, her feet making soft crunching noises in the sandy substrate that leads to the Land of Fire Docks. She's changed much over the past few months, in more than just physical appearance. Her gaze seems distant, her thoughts inward. It's as though with a few drinks, perhaps, she might be able to tell a decent story. Maybe, she would add a few flourishes, but it could be entertaining nonetheless.
She hadn't told Eremi that she was going. How could she explain that this is something she /has/ to do? How could she explain to him that some things are more important than her life? Eremi would understand, but she thinks he would try to stop her or try to go with her-which would make her feel even worse. He'll be worried. At that thought, Renai pauses and turns to look back down the path, a wave of guilt sweeping over her. She should have said something. Left a note. She sighs slightly and turns back down the path. It's too late to turn back now.
Straightening up, Renai tugs at the strap of her bag. Her hand moves over surface, feeling the soft crinkle of paper beneath the canvas material. What she had to say she wrote down just in case. It's very possible that when she gets back to the Land of Water that they'll kill her before asking any questions.
"Leaving already?" A soft voice calling out from behind Renai. "I knew you had thoughts of moving on once again, but I didn't think it would be without a goodbye." Eremi stood several feet behind the girl, his arms crossed over one another. His stance was casual and non threatening, weight leaning more so on one leg over the other. "I especially didn't think you'd be going back to the Land of Water." A sigh would escape his lips as he dropped his hands down to his sides. The chain links attached to the shackles around his wrist would jingle slightly as they bobbed. "That is where you're going, isn't it? There's nothing else out there toward the east except your home. I can't fault you for wanting to return, it's your decision. I just hope it's what you want in the end."
The day is a cold one, winter skimming its fingers across the lands as a lazy breeze, leeching the warmth from the desertlike span of earth between the Great River Bridge and the Fire Ferry Docks. The skies are clear, leaving nothing to stand between the ground and the sharp light of the overhead sun. Snow from the past night, hardened to ice, provides a breaking, frozen sound to the shifting of sand beneath the feet. It is not a comfortable day. And that, perhaps, is why there are no others to be found but for the distant figure of a traveler heading inland from the Docks. Nothing but their words interrupt the tune of the season's stroking.
Renai blinks once at the sound of Eremi's words. So, he -did- follow her. She can't help but smile slightly. Albeit annoying an inconvenient, she's glad he did. Renai turns, her eyes glancing automatically to the shackles and then up to his face. She says rather simply, "It is."
Her eyes lower and she looks away from him, speaking again, "Sorry I didn't come say goodbye first. I thought I could get away before you'd catch up to me." Her lips twitch at the edges as though she might break out into a big toothy grin, but they just don't quite make it.
She doesn't move to go just yet, but Renai turns her head back toward the docks. She sees someone, but his identity doesn't register in her brain immediately. She's about to turn to say something to Eremi, her lips parted and a light intake of air as she readies herself to say something, and then she stops. Renai simply freezes in place, her body subtly shifting into a tense awareness of what she just saw. She glances back again and utters a single word beneath her breath, the sound of it lost in the wind, "Mizukage."
Hearing the girl’s admission, Eremi would slowly nod his head, accepting her decision. "I told you I'd always be watching. So even though I made my way back into Konoha, I wasted no time in earning their trust to make sure I gain the modicum of freedom needed to leave the village and keep an eye on you." When Renai turned around, Eremi would step forward. He hadn't noticed the figure that was approaching or at least has decided them not important enough to take his focus away. "I didn't catch what you said." A heavy hand would lift to rest upon the girl’s shoulder. "You know you can tell me anything."
It had been truth the winter wind snatched from the girl's lips, it's greed keeping Eremi from the revelation. The figure approaching was a pale one, very near to a white blotch on the horizon, as though that it was simply a spot The Painter had overlooked when creating this picture. But drawn closer, one would see that it was not forgotten paint but a man.
The Kage of the Mist Village strode towards with pair with a ground eating gait well hidden within the silken folds of his platinum robes. The cold winds brushed his hair back like an intimate friend, spreading it across the air behind him as he approached. He was far from home and within the territory of a people who were not friendly towards his own, but one could not find that story written within the set of his shoulders or the planes of his face.
His gaze, cast from ebon orbs holding crimson mists, was steady on his target.
"Renai no Kirigakure!" echoed across the void.
When Eremi rests his hand on her shoulder, she lifts her head and turns her gaze to him. There are many things in her face-sadness at leaving him, determination for her self-proclaimed mission, but more than anything at this very second is fear. She presses her lips together and looks back to the figure moving inland from the docks. Her grip is tight on the strap of her bag, the white of her knuckles breaking the smooth tan-ness that seems to have enveloped her skin lately with all the time she has spent beneath the sun. Renai doesn't repeat herself and doesn't need to.
At the sound of her name, she starts slightly, looking as if she very much so wishes to flee for safety. Instead she forces herself to stand still, keeping her hands visible on the straps. "Mizukage," she says strongly in response to her name. Right now is not really the time to be a whimpering pool of cowardice. Inside, she has the hysteric and bubbling urge to make a joke about how he's kinda saving her some money by coming to her, but, yeah, she doesn't do that.
The look upon the girl’s face said more to Eremi than any words she might be able to express to him. The silence was a similar answer she had given to him before during the time the two had spent together. Always during a familiar conversation… In understanding, a nod would be given as he drops the reassuring hand to his side and finally turns to face the approaching figure. Attention taken away from Renai, Eremi's focus to that of the Mizukage. A man that had come here for a specific reason and done so either bravely or stupidly by coming to the Land of Fire. Unlike the girl, Eremi was not afraid. Death did not scare him. It was a welcoming solution to the problem that was life.
Meruin was closer.
Between breaths, distance between him and the pair seemed to simply dissolve as though they had lost moments in time. Soon, the man was 100 meters away from — just 10 meters away, standing tall before them. It was always difficult to say where his gaze lay, the pupiless nature of his eyes disguising the specifics, but such knowledge was unecessary. The force of his attention was nearly tangible, a pressure on the skin. Neither of them escaped his regard.
"Renai no Kirigakure," he reiterated.
Darkness slid from his palm, long, slender and wicked. It was a sheenless ebon blade, it's edges serrated to draw as many screams with each drop of blood drunken as possible. Its point was raised towards the girl, marking her heart.
"I call on your oaths to Clan, Kage and Kirigakure and order you to surrender yourself to judgement for the crime of Treason. How do you answer?"
Renai watches Meruin as he lifts the blade to point at her heart and listens to his words. She's still for a long moment, her eyes falling to the blade Meruin wields. So, that's how it will be, eh?
She inhales deeply and lifts her eyes to Meruin's face, her fingers flexing on the strap of her bag. She -is- guilty in a technical sense, but she really feels as that is not the best thing to say, so instead , the girl voices loudly, "Not guilty, Mizukage-sama."
She waits for his response before she will say more. Her mind is rather focused on killing her urges to bury herself in the ground or run away crying. She's very attuned to Eremi's presence beside her, deathly afraid he'll make a move to take the Mizukage on.
The Mizukage would approach and the blade would appear. It lifted ever so slightly and pointed at the girl’s heart for emphasis as the man spoke. The events that were to transpire next depended entirely on the actions the two would decide upon. The girl wished to return to Kirigakure, the reasoning Eremi didn't know and it wasn't his right to question such. Meruin however had an image to keep up, one that was held in place by forcing fear through those that are beneath him. Something that must work for the Shinobi in the Land of Water or perhaps not, considering how quickly Mizukage come and go.
Regardless of how things are handled in Kirigakure, this was the Land of Fire and as long as Renai was still by his side, Eremi would protect the girl. She had much life left to give and would not be taken away so hastily. Jingling would be heard as both hands were before him. The pin that held the shackle to one of his wrists would be removed, falling below and gently bouncing against the ice that covers the sand. The same would be removed from the other wrist and the shackles that bound him would give way. Unlike the pin that fell softly into the ground, the shackles would land with a thud; shattering the ice pushing away the sand beneath.
Meruin remained, unflinching, as Eremi's shackles slammed to the ground to the brief sound of shattering ice and hissing sand. He was fixed on Renai, not even the cold shard of shrapnel bouncing off of his cheek drawing his attention away.
A moment passed…
…before he spoke again. "I did not ask for your pleas, deserter," he spoke, voice holding only authority, lacking either animosity or compassion. "I'd asked for your surrender. So I ask once more." He turned his wrist, weapon still aimed for the girl's heart.
"Do you submit to Judgment?"
Renai's attention is diverted as she hears the shackles slamming into the ground. She glances to the side, peering down at the hole in the ice in surprise, up to Eremi, and then back to Meruin. She blushes slightly at Meruin's words, feeling rather silly. "Oh, well yes. I was.. on my way to surrender actually."
Her nose has taken this inopportune moment to decide that it wants to run and she sniffs lightly, before continuing. "I have information Kirigakure should have for its defense and well.." She falls quiet again, really unsure of what to say, if she should say anything. This is really one of those sort of 'speak when spoken to' kind of moments. The girl sniffs again, her pink nose crinkling. She dare not reach for a hankie to resolve the issue though.
Hands free, weight removed and movement unrestricted, Eremi was ready should the Mizukage strike. Gaze still kept on the blade held out, he'd turn his head slightly toward Renai. It always upset him the way she felt around Meruin, as if her life was not hers to live how she so saw fit. "Remember, Renai. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. I'm here for you and if that's not enough, the world is a large place with many parts of it still unexplored. You are free to do as you choose."
Meruin's gaze shifted to Eremi now.
"It is a bad habit you keep," spoke the man, voice deep and pervasive. "Telling of so many pretty, empty promises. Believing such things is the reason you became a wandering drunk, is it not? Learning that life is not always so bright as Konohagakure would lead you to believe?"
He did not wait for an answer, looking back to Renai. "With this declaration, by your honor and my power, your life is in my hands. Come," he told her, his blade lowering. And then he turned about, starting to walk back the way he had come, not even bothering to put the girl in binds. It would seem that he was very confident. Whether it was in her honor, his power or both was not clear.
"There is a ship awaiting us."
Renai exhales slowly when the blade is lowered, feeling rather as though she might faint due to the sudden wave of relief that courses through her. She may be willing to die, but she doesn't want to. Her body instinctually denies the idea that she will in its constant processes of survival.
When Meruin starts to walk, she pauses beside Eremi, reaching up to undo the silver chain from her neck. She holds out the crescent moon necklace to him with a soft, "Thank you, Eremi." Then as if to reassure him, she smiles, "I do want this. Even if I die when I get back, I'll die because I chose to protect the people I gave an oath to in the end." She doesn't hug him, but rather turns and takes off after Meruin, rushing to keep up with his quick stride. She does glance over her shoulder once, calling out a "Goodbye, Eremi!" and waves to him.
Eremi's lip twitched slightly before forming into a bit of a smile at Meruin's words. What the man believed could not be further from the truth, but Eremi would not respond or give any reasoning to why he did what he did. Those were his choices to make, without anyone guiding his decisions.
Focus shifting to Renai as he accepted the necklace in one hand, he'd listen to the words she had to offer, smile still remaining though more genuine when directed at her. "If that is what you want, then I cannot and will not stand in your way. Just never stray away from who you are and what you know." He wish he had something to give her in exchange, but what he had taught her should be more than enough for the girl to never forget him.
"Goodbye…" Waving in return until the girl turns around. At that point Eremi shifted his gaze to meet the back of Meruin's head. Words wanted to escape his tight lips, but out of worry for what might happen to Renai were he to do so, remained in place. Someday, the confidence of the Mizukage will find the man outside the protection of the borders of the Land of Water once again and it will be the man's undoing.
Meruin's stride took them closer to the docks and the Land of Water beyond — further from Eremi and his home within the Flames. After a distance had passed, the Mizukage thought to turn and look back at the watching Konoha-nin. For all of his power, so little of it was significant. And so, he stood and watched as his charge walked away from him, lead by a man he loathed.
The moment passed within a trio of footsteps and the Okumo's gaze turned back towards the future, the Satonezu falling to the back of his mind. He would be a mission for another night. Today's was still rushing beside him. And so far, it had been going as expected. Renai was en route to the ship that would speed them back to the Land of Water, in full compliance and with his haste. Everything was as it needed to be.
"Do not think yourself safe," he spoke to the horizon, voice an omen. "You have not been forgiven."