Date: February 18, 2015
A team is dispatched to humor an old man who paid for a contract to have a ghost removed. The team discovered that there was more to it than a crazy old man.
Land of Wind
The contract was accepted.. it was only for a small sum, but a contract was a contract. From its vagueness and low yield, it was to be assigned to the younger Genin to spend their time investigating it. When it was found out that Ikitara Arika would be assigned to this task, a request was issued to recently retired Kuoroke to accompany her to make sure there was someone there to keep her inline if the worst came to be. Even without needing to look deep in her records, a suitable teammate was found, a young Amaro who had yet to graduate but was already an active agent on minor operations. A scroll was hand delivered to Kuoroke detailing the two he would be overseeing along with the mostly simple task at hand.
The village the team was dispatched to was rather small, and simple, a farming village. The old man they were hired by was on the porch almost beside himself, muttering incoherently. From the appearance of the elderly man, he has hardly slept in possible a week, possibly even longer. Beyond such, there was almost nothing that far out of place or abnormal about the building he was at.
Kuoroke arrives, his two young team members in tow, at the house. Although the old man is clearly in no shape to provide accurate information, Kuoroke decides to see what he can learn here. "Afternoon, sir. We're from Sunagakure… you hired our team to come look at your ghost problem. May I ask what the problem is, specifically?"
Jiro has gone on the trip with Arika which is rather his custom. Chances are if he hadn't been invited along he would've snuck out to tail them anyways. If Arika was going outside the village he was going to. He was supposed to be protecting her after all! The boy has his hands clasped on top of his head as he looks at the old man and the house curiously, not saying anything as Kuoroke is in charge and all that. He'll be good. Promise.
Arika keeps close to Kuoroke on their travels unless otherwise made to walk on her own. She peeks at the man who seems really sleepy and wonders how he's even still alive with so little sleep. "Jii-san is seeing ghosts?" she asks, the girl hearing this for the first time. … Well, she didn't pay much attention to what the mission was about, anyway. She just knew that she was supposed to be on this with people she liked! And Jiro is there, too! That makes everything better.
A wide eye shifts and focuses onto Kuoroke, the expression was almost mute, not happiness, not fear.. hardly more than acknowledgement before looking up to the sky, as if checking on the sun. "You.. You're really real this time?" Turning his head slowly back to the man, only to then turn to each of the children with them. 'They've never taken on the shape of that many before.. Are there more here this time?' "/If/ you're real this time, I'll tell you, if you're not.. you are laughing each time I tell you this, aren't you?" The elderly man stares at Kuoroke, half expecting him to laugh or change shape, but when he doesn't he speaks again, "Every night, two hours after sundown, it appears again and again.. messing with this, tweeking that.. thumping around.. chaining me to the wall with nothing but air.. I've held this house for two generations.. I've not leaving until my son returns with a bride but.. they won't live here with that demon. Who in the right mind would?"
Kuoroke nods. He doesn't laugh: he doesn't consider work a laughing matter. He may not be familiar with the concept of 'laughing matter', but that's neither here nor there. "Thank you. Stay out here, please." He turns to the other two. "Rika, you take the top floor. I'll start with the ground floor, and Jiro, you'll do the first one. Be careful, methodical, and report any findings to me."
Jiro looks quizzically as the crazy man starts blathering about them not being real or something. The boy looks over to Arika, letting his hands stay on his head as he shrugs a little. He remains quiet and such for now as he looks back to the crazy guy. What exactly did they get into here? And what are they supposed to do about ghosts anyways? When Kuoroke starts telling them what to do he puts on his 'game' face and nods, dropping his hands to his side. "'kay." He quips, waiting to make sure there's nothing else before he leads the way in, holding the door open for the others.
Arika doesn't really know what the man is babbling about. But she assumes the ghosts are real to him. She nods to Kuoroke's instructions, hopping off the Kuroki's back so that she can get started on her search. "Let's go, Jiro-kun!" She tugs the boy into the house and upwards, though she lets him be so that she can move to the top-most floor that isn't the attack and begins her hunt for… whatever she's supposed to be looking for. She starts in the farthest rooms and plans to slowly make her way back to the stairs before going to the other side.
As he searches, little if anything gets past Kuoroke's keen eyes. He would see the ground floor is where the old man likely lived and held himself to but.. something was wrong. Too much food looked like it was eaten for just the one old man. Many of the belongings while they were neat, looked like they were tampered with and rummaged through. There weren't many clues to be held in the ground floor, who ever or what ever the ghost was was extra careful while that low in the house.
On the first floor, Jiro would notice every so often.. crumbs or a crusted noodle. It wasn't until he found a slightly damp instant noodle cap would he realize that it was all from a messy eater rather than years of neglect. The floor didn't seemed that well lived in but rather was a growing mess, little effort was kept in keeping the furniture aligned or all the drawers closed.
What Arika would find would be closer to a bedroom Jiro might host, a near ratnest of things set into piles with little care, and was beyond simply lived in. What little she noticed was it didn't seem like an elderly man would live as such. When she closes her eyes and focuses.. her would feel a wall close to her was fake, a maintenance crawl tunnel behind the wall which would soon lead to a drop down to a different floor though where to wasn't really able to be seen as it was very dark and had a sudden drop.
Arika is tempted to explore, but she decides it's a bad idea. The girl sighs a bit and clambers back down to the ground floor, dragging Jiro with her so she doesn't have to explain things twice. "I found something! There's this tiny hole that seems to lead somewhere. And also a bunch stuff inside a room. It's all super messy and there's a whole lot of random things, not really sorted or anything. You should come and see!" She then proceeds to try and drag the ex-Councilman up the stairs to the top floor.
Kuoroke doesn't come, at first. "Details, Arika. You reports should be clear and detailed. For the amount of words you've spoken, you've told me previous little. That applies to written reports at least as much." Only then does he deign to come upstairs. The evidence, to him, speaks for itself. "Now, I want both of you to formulate theories based on the evidence, give me a proposed strategy, then go and look in these maintenance crawls you've mentioned if you can't find someone or traces of someone."
Jiro is dragged, and once Arika is done and they start moving again he gives his meager report on his findings. It all just adds up to the same thing. When they get to the maintenance crawls he peeks in curiously with a little frown, trying to see in the dark. If only they had some light or…something.
With them crawling in one after the other, Arika's eyes would be nearly useless at the moment, especially with Jiro's rear end taking up much of what she can see. What her senses would say would be more helpful.. they weren't alone. There was someone or something in the tunnels with them. Something skinny like them but much longer at the same time. Jiro on the other hand isn't fairing much better with his eyes. Something he would notice though.. unlike most of the house, the tunnels were clean, signs that they were used often, though just where was an issue.
While outside, Kuoroke could begin to notice that there was further lack of organization.. and even poorer cleanliness within the upper floor. Unless the man had grandchildren or was /worse/.. there wouldn't be a reason for there to be such clothes well worn and more than half of them dirty from recent use. The further he would examine, he would notice almost all the clothing was near the same size of someone some what taller than Jiro but just as lanky as either of the children.
While the others are inside, Kuoroke takes thetime to carefully examine where these tunnels are, inferring it from the placement of vents and occasional knock on the wall.
*Thump!* During one of Kuoroke's probing checks along the walls of the top floor results with something on the other side moving rapidly. A faint whimper and a growl could be heard before rustling. It's likely the pair within the tunnels would be able to hear the knocking for some time, but the thump sounds from their side of the wall.
Jiro is moving along the tunnels, listening to the knocking from the other side and trying to follow it as much as a linear path allows. He scrunches his nose as he takes in the cleanliness of the area. "Don' get too close. Gonna be 'ard ta move if we need ta." He tries to say over his shoulder. As it is he gets a kunai in one hand before continuing. When he hears the sounds from their side of the wall he moves quickly towards it to try and see what it is.
Arika grumbles a bit for Jiro going first. "I think there's like a big snake or something in here, Jiro-kun. Be careful," Arika says, telling him about the 'long and tiny thing' that was with them in the tunnels.
The sound of movement continues for a time before.. the whole tunnel begins to fill with a pale light.. fingers slip forth, then a full hand.. then arms, one by one fills the area, quickly latching onto the pair of young genin. The hand begin grasping at their throats before yanking hard, attempting to slam them from one side of the tunnel to the next. If it was a ghost.. it was a clan of them, each one trying to get a piece of the two children.
Jiro mutters something to Arika that can't really be heard since he's facing the other way with his butt in her face. When the light starts to shine the boy freezes, waiting. Eyes widen as he sees the ghosts and he slams his head against the top of the crawl space as he tries to stand in reaction. Instead the hands grab him and he lets out a yelp of surprise as he tries to pry them off.
Arika squeaks a bit, thankfully a bit prepared for the ghosts so that she can figure out that they aren't actually a thing. Just genjutsu? She is able to avoid getting attacked, fortunately. The girl makes a seal, grabs Jiro's leg, and then breathes out a large gust of wind to try and blow these phantoms away…
Hearing the commotion and the rush of air, Kuoroke rushes towards the nearest grate, opening it in one confident motion to grab anything that might be forces past at high speed.
A pillow.. socks.. a blanket.. pieces of half eaten fruit.. all at once they began to rush through and out the small vents of the top floor. The ghosts wrapping around Jiro were also blown away only to.. disappear into nothingness. While Jiro was spares, Kuoroke would notice a sand cloak that was oddly similar to the boys end up coming out of one of the vents. "..Ow!" could be heard as something thumbs about but then the sound was clamped, silencing itself. The voice was far from that of a ghost or that of a grown person.
While all manner of less-relevant stuff flies past, the Kuroki bides his time, but as soon as he hears a voice, Kuoroke moves to grab the cloak and its owner. "I think we've got our so-called ghost." The Kuroki announces, lifting them to get a better look.
Jiro squeaks in surprise as the wind comes and blows away the ghosts and he barely keeps from going himself. Whew. When he hears what Kuoroke says the looks around for the nearest vent and kicks it out to shimmy through the small space out, landing on his rump.
Arika comes back out, moving backwards to get out of the vent. She peeks out of it and hops out, dusting herself off a bit and peeking at Kuoroke. "What'd you find, Kuroki-sama?" she wonders, the girl looking very curious now…
With a yank on the cloak, a gag and a gasp could be heard. What emerges is a child, possibly someone eleven or twelve, possibly a little older struggling to breath. With their hands on their throat, they look up to Kuoroke with saucer sized eyes and their first response, was to panic and kick at the large man as much as they could, aiming at the groin, though it wasn't skillful.
Jiro would manage to crawl forward and out without too much issue through he does end up crawling into a half eaten creambread, which now coated over part of a palm and his knees. Arika on the other hand back tracks, saving herself from a similar sticky fate. The ex-councilman didn't need to say much but simply showed the youth that was in his possession now, a youth that was very much alive and very much not ghostly.
Jiro tumbles out all sticky and grumbled as he stands, wiping his hands on his pants before going to look at the captive. Yep, not a ghost. But it was his fault Jiro was all sticky. The boy points up at him and gets to the important stuff. "Who are ya? An' what're ya doin'?" And even more important, "Why'd'ja leave yer food behind!"
Arika hmm a bit and peers at the captive. "Yeah, what're you doing?" she questions, the girl frowning. She taps Jiro a bit to make sure her friend is okay (and not mad at her for blowing all that wind in his direction, oops…). "Also, I should go tell that one dude what's been causing all this trouble…" She points at the kid they caught. "You should clean the house if you did all this!"
"I didn't! You took it from me!" Continuing to struggle within Kuoroke's grip until they slip from the cloak and land onto the ground with a thud and a groan. "What are /you/ doing here?" 'I'm just trying to live here..' Snapping their eyes to Arika, they quickly begin to scowl, "Shut up, you don't know anything." They soon begin to move away onto to get caught by the hair once again by Kuoroke before becoming bound by 'ink'? All the fight was soon gone, in exchanged for fear when she looks up at the man and then more carefully looks at the pair in front of her. "..Suna?"
Jiro watches the kid for a moment before glancing to Arika, then back to the kid. "We didn' take nothin'a yers. Why're ta in this 'ouse?"
"Then you should explain yourself," Arika huffs, nodding a bit when she hears 'Suna'. The girl just waits for someone to explain, not sure how to respond to this kid being here and the like. Trying to live here? Why was the kid /here/ and not at home?
A glare is aimed at Jiro though from her held position she couldn't do very much more than that. "You stepped in it.. I'm here 'cause I ain't got anywhere else idiot." Despite her condition and position, their eyes are rolled, looking away afterwards. "Just shut up.. rather spook the old man into leaving me alone with that trick than sleeping outside." Shrugging as much as they could, a sigh escapes them.
"Excuses" is the first word Kuoroke says, lifting the captive up and onto his shoulder. Raising a finger to first Jiro and then Arika he continues to say "Both of you can continue to ask questions to the 'ghost' while we bring them back to Suna, remember that you're still on a mission, not a meet and greet with a thief." With that said, the man begins to make his way towards the stairs downwards, but he didn't seem to be in a rush.
Jiro eyetwitches and looks ready to whomp the brat before Kuoroke steps in. Grumble. "Did'ja think ta even ask ta jus' stay 'ere? Not like he's usin' all'a it." He says, crossing his arms over his chest. The boy knows what it's like to sleep outside. Better than anyone here most likely. It was a large chunk of his life. "Wha's yer name anyways?"
Arika shakes her head a bit and then nods, moving to follow Kuoroke. The girl sighs a bit, though, at Jiro. He's basically asking all the questions she wants to ask, and the girl isn't really able to add much to the conversation. Once the whole situation is explained to the old man, she follows the councilman back to the village.