Date: January 19, 2016
People have gone missing in Sunagakure, it's happened before. The catacombs are a maze of corridors, open spaces and dead-ends with a mixture of intent and natural planning that draws curiosity and favors only the fortunate as those whose serendipity doesn't follow them end up being lost. Thankfully, the missing are able to find their way home, weakened and drained, but home. Still, the reason for their disapperances has eluded the village, but it may be that they were using their eyes where they should have been more mindful…
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Tatsumihito Chronicles - Catacomb Pipe Dream"
Visitor Orientation Center - Nanpuu Street [Sunagakure]
It was later in the afternoon and the heat of the day had reached its peak. Yet, this was favorable for the inhabitants of Sunagakure. The heat now would last into the evening and maintain warmth within the houses and buildings as winter quickly seeped into the village. What discomfort there was at the moment could be tolerated for now, but that couldn't be said for everyone. At the very least, those who would find themselves at the Visitor Orientation Center could stand it. They were all called here for a reason, but one that wasn't revealed to them yet.
Itami had all of them gathered here to be questioned individually while a separate task force was sent to explore the catacombs below and see if there was anything more to find than what she and her team ran into prior. As the visitor arrived, one thing became clear between all of them. They were all of the same clan. What lead to a group of Watanabe to be called here? Well, that's what the Kazekage aims to find out. However, she does realize the risk this poses for herself and the visitors here, mostly, any potential for bias. So, she has some assistance brought in to help balance the situation out.
"Something is happening in my village and I am to find out what the issue is. It would appear that misfortune has found all of us today, but perhaps there's a way to clear this all up. I know you all don't know what you've been called in for, but all of that will soon be revealed."
Hiroto sat nearby with a bird on his head. Tenshi didn't understand why he was here, but the reasoning was that he could actually see subtle changes in people better than Hiroto could. Hiroto could spot things yeah, but Tenshi could spot them better and has that weird animal sense of people. Mostly if they are oozy at lying then Tenshi would be able to spot it. Just…not as good as Inuzuka who could smell fear. For now Hiroto sat in waiting and watched until Itami needed him.
Arika-lizard perches on Itami's head. The lizard is a very very tiny lizard! So tiny that she feels like Itami's hair could be a forest or something. The little lizard has no idea why she's here, actually. She just wanted to bug Itami a bit, but somehow she ended up in this office and then there were IMPORTANT PEOPLE arriving D: She couldn't possibly reveal herself /now/, so she was… stuck. Ari-lizard's tail flicks impatiently as she eyes the door, trying to will it to stay closed for the next while so that maybe she could get out of this awkward position.
"I hope so. I have orders that have been placed and I'd like to get back to working on them. These orders are to be sent out very soon and time spent here only detracts from that," Kotone speaks up first out of the group. She isn't exactly pleased to be here, but she understand that sometimes official business can get in the way. She sat with her arms folded, peering over the rims of her glasses in dissappointment, joined by Katashi, Sorano, and Kishi each in various states of emotion. Yet, they were not the only Watanabe to be here. The newest arrival to the village, Ume, has also been called in to this meeting.
"I know. I don't want to withhold you from getting your orders out or any of you being kept back from whatever business you had, but considering the nature of this meeting, you'll have to understand and agree that there is a possibility you won't be returning to your normal lives outside of here," Itami explained. "Is this…involving the missing people that disappeared a couple days ago?" Ume interjected. "Yes, it is," Itami mildly stumbled over her words at the interruption. "But it turns out they weren't actually missing, correct?" Silence fell over the room momentarily before Itami spoke up again. "There were people that went into the hospital to be examined after having been found," she described. "You are very invested in this," the Kazekage leaned up against a table in the room they were situated in. It wasn't much, in fact it was fairly straight laced, but quaint. The room was just a simple chamber filled with cushioned seats with windows lining the walls to allow light in from outside. It had a small stage to speak from and go over orientation materials with the visitors that found themselves staying in Sunagakure for a spell.
"I'm invested because I expressed my interests before. I wanted to build relations and establish a good presence here in Sunagakure and I thought placing focus into this subject would be a good start. Perhaps not the best idea in hindsight, but now I'm in it," Ume chuckled. "And to see that it appears to include Watanabe draws my attention further. In other words, I'm asking what can I and those I brought with me assist with?" Itami pushed herself up from the table and took a seat at its head. "We're going a bit too far now. I haven't even spoken entirely of what we're dealing with here, but you've covered some of it. About three days ago, an investigation was launched and what was discovered was…unsettling to say the least. All I will say is that what happened within the catacombs was consistent with what could come from a wild beast."
"And what does this have to do with us?" Katashi inquired with a lofted brow. "We all have the capacity to turn into said wild beasts," Itami finished.
Hiroto listened closely and Tenshi hopped onto the ground and waddled around as he watched them all. Hiroto wondered if the bird might make some that wern't close to him yet a little wary. Ume in particular. It was a dangerous situation they were all in right now as well with everything going on. All of them saying anything that might be enough for suspecting them could cause chaos if the others decided to save themselves before thinking. When Ume began to speak he listened as well to her and thought about her words. Tenshi for now was watching her closely to see if her body language matched her words.
Arika tries to peek at all the speakers. She's pretty sure she knows most of them! They're the obaa-s that all showed up for the wedding, aren't they? Yay! And then there was also someone she didn't recognize at all. She sorta squinted at Ume to try and figure out who she was, then her lizard-gaze was on the others to see their reactions to what it sounded like Itami was trying to say. She was… confused on what the heck was going on! But she may as well listen and take notes like she's been taught, right?
"Hmm," Kishi hummed to herself. "You have a point and I can understand why we would be called in for such a thing. We do have the capacity to become dragons, but I imagine that we can sort this out with some effort on our part," she spoke supportively to Itami. "Three days ago, I was busy touring the village. I came upon the Mystic Flower Gardens and stayed there for the duration of my day as I explored and studied the plants there along with the attendants who were generous enough to help," she explained her case. "My hope has been to participate in producing medicines here." She looked over the others to see what they would reveal about their time here.
"I'm probably the one that has done the least around here so much of my time has been spent organizing for my mother, much to my chagrin at times," Katashi answered honestly, followed by a sneer from Kotone. "I set her appointments, keep track of her orders, ensure materials that she needs are always available and so on and so forth," she rolled her eyes. "I've been consistent with that since I made the decision to work with her. That was far longer than three days ago, but my that's been my only focus here." Sorano and Ume were the only ones left to answer anything and both of them seemed to be unusually silent.
"Well, the others have given their accounts, do you two have anything to say?" Itami wondered. "As you may know, I've been involved with ensuring your program runs smoothly. The training of the population, that is. I offered to help and thought my expertise would be decent to share…" Ume chuckled to herself. "In the time that I've been here, I have only sought your audience, Kazekage. But I understand you're on a busy schedule and my arrival was unexpected. Still, up to this point, I and my people have largely been keeping to ourselves aside from engaging in open study of Sunagakure's culture and environment. I've found it to be quite intriguing, really. It's very different from Watanabe, but there are few similarities that we can relate to."
Itami nodded to herself quietly after hearing what each of them had to say. She looked over to Hiroto and Tenshi, wondering if they had any questions or determined anything from their explanations. In the meantime, she'd be sitting to herself trying to ruminate over what each had provided her and further, what the current investigation team had determined, if anything.
Hiroto listened and stood up when Itami looked at her. He simply stretched a bit before calling Tenshi to him. Tenshi who would fly up and onto his outstretched arm. "I have questions myself. Sorano firstly. Have you used the catacombs for any form of training? So would there be reasons to go down there besides personal ones that would allow a certain pattern to the visits in which can be exploited?" He then turned to Ume. "And from you I ask. What forms of open study. Asking others about the place or taking it upom yourself to explore? And since the catacombs were a fairly non restricted place I wonder if you explored that any. Being the fact that the catacombs would be a heavily culture filled place."
Hiroto now looked to the other few wondering what he could ask them. He didn't want it to seem like they wern't still possible suspects. "You and your attendants were all gathering plants to produce medicines? Have you found anything out… also it may be a little invasive, but I wouldn't need to see it. At the very least if you have any way to show it then I think a scedule that showed the hours you spent there would be good. If it doesn't line up with the missing people and the dealings with them then you would be proven innocent." He then looked to Katashi. "And same for you. I am sure it shouldn't be too hard to get a scedule of where you were." He then moved to sit back down and sighed. He just hoped his questions were reasonable.
Arika hmms and haws inwardly as she starts to realize what's going on. It's a super secret investigation! Something happened in the catacombs, and one of the Watanabe are being accused! Oh no! D: She doesn't actually pay attention to anyone's stories, if only because she would try to skitter off Itami's head and onto the floor to sneak out of this visiting person's place. She's pretty sure she's never been to this place before, either. She was gonna go explore the catacombs and see for herself what was there! Just… She needed to escape from this place -.-; Also, she wanted to keep an ear on these processions here, which sorta made her wish she was an Iga. Oh well… Arika would just try to escape for now. Hopefully no one is paying attention to the tiny lizard c.c;
"Used the catacombs for training? No. I have not," Sorano answered simply enough. "I have had no reasons to explore the catacombs myself and doubt I will in the future," she offered. "I won't dismiss the potential of exploitation, but that's another matter entirely." This is one of few moments where Sorano sorely wished she had a drink.
"You bring up a very stirring question and I'm happy to oblige. We have not placed ourselves in the position to be invasive, so to speak. All of our study has been walking around Sunagakure and observing the different people at work. We have noticed there is a merchant class of people here, selling all sorts of wares. Textiles, jewelry, incense, oils, and if not that, their expertise in those areas. The catacombs, I had no familiarity with as a cultural haven," Ume explained to Hiroto, though given her interest in the missing persons, she might know more than what she's let on so far.
Itami looked between Sorano and Ume in particular, if only because she was nagged by a remark made by the latter regarding her sister, once. She wasn't certain if now was the time to bring it up, so she may do so later.
"Attendants?" Kishi thought to herself. "Oh, I see. No, I don't have any attendants personally. I meant the attendants at the gardens. I was only working with them to study the plants they had within the gardens and those they documented within their records. I have not produced anything here in my stay within Sunagakure yet, but I would like to. My time spent at the Mystic Flower Gardens started at about ten in the morning and went onward to eight in the evening. I haven't found anything out just yet about the plants, but more study may produce results later."
Katashi knew she was up next, so she spoke up immediately after Kishi was finished. "Yes, yes and my time is spent all day running errands for Kotone. Every day…" she grumbled. "Not that I mind it, but that's all besides the point. All I did within these three days has been for her strictly. I can produce a scheduling book to show you my time down to the second."
Kotone chimed in, "I can vouch for Katashi. She has been with me the entire time and I am more than certain she is telling the truth."
Itami leaned back in her seat to grow more relaxed, giving Arika an easier time of climbing down and skittering away without being noticed all that much. "All of their words appear to be fairly solid, but we can do some follow up later," Itami states. "We aren't done here, but this is a good start. Hiroto, is there anything else you'd like to ask?"
Hiroto looked to everyone as they spoke and just nodded his head. Itami though he spoke to when spoken to himself. "Nothing to add no. I wouldn't mind talking to you afterwards or at a later date though if you are free." Tenshi saw the lizard scurrying away and charged! Though just as he was getting in to snap at her he realized it was Ari and quickly turned nearly smacking face first into the floor. Then when he landed he just looked at Arika and did a birdie head tilt. AND then bird talk begun telling her it was dangerous to do what she was doing when he is around.
Arika squeaks a bit when suddenly Tenshi dives at her, and the girl just disappears in a burst of speed right out the … ummm.. Is there a window or a door in here? >.>?;;;; Well, she would make her way to one of those things ASAP because her life sorta depended on it, which means that she probably missed Tench's bird-lecture. So the falcon looks like he's talking to nothing? Probably… Once outside the visitor center, though, Arika would make a dopple-ganger that /also/ henge's into a lizard. But this time a different tiny lizard that would sneak onto the window sill ever so sneakily why the real Ari headed towards the catacombs!
"Alright, then. I think will conclude—" A sudden burst of wind interrupts Itami and the rest of those gathered in the room. She looks at the window where it took place and took note of the lizard there. Problem is, did anyone else notice that this lizard is only a decoy? She would hope not. That wind may have been enough to catch them off guard. "Conclude…this meeting," Itami finished off. "For now, you all may return to your homes and or former duties," she offered.
Her sisters and mother each rose from their seats and began to file out of the room to leave, leaving Ume as the last to leave the room. "You have an interesting species of lizard around here…" She left that as her parting statement, heading out of the center.
In the investigation currently undergoing in the catacombs, the team has been seeking out more information based on the limited clues that they received from Itami and her team. So far, they have a ways to go, but have been making progress. The signs appear to be all there, the claws, the scorcing and fire…but why is it still so fresh? Perhaps it's the underground. It has been known to trap elements from time to time.
Hiroto waited until everyone had left before walking over to Itami and with a sigh he begun to speak. "I don't know for sure who out of them could be suspicious yet. But I will say something. Involving Ume she may not have done anything with the catacombs involving culture, but she must of known about them. For how much she explored the missing people and everything. So she should of known of the catacombs and about them. At least in some form. Besides that everyone checks out from their own words."
Arika scampers around the catacombs curiously in her lizard form, sniffing around at the different claw marks and trying to use any form of sight to try and see something interesting. Some other inky critters of small proportions join her in this scouting business while the Ari-clone sneaks over a bit closer to see what goes on!
"Ugh, that was absolutely terrible," Itami rubbed her neck. "I hated every last moment of that meeting," she sighed. "But you make a good point," she jumped up from her seat. "She must have known about the catacombs if she expressed that much interest in the missing people. I'm glad you were there, Hiroto. I don't think I'd have been nearly as focused as you were," she states. "Now, I understand Arika has left us, but…I am uncertain of what she'd find…"
Arika would be introduced to the same sights that Itami's team saw. There was the burning pile of material, claw marks on the walls and the deeper she went, the more she'd come in contact with the scent of metal. It doesn't take much to determine that the scent is blood and the scene that hosts it is grisly. Still present were the bodies torn apart, ripped in half, limbs tossed aside and blood settled all over the place. The same scene as before, but no beast to speak for other than what it left behind in its wake.
Hiroto nodded a bit. "I would be happy to join you next time as well if you needed it. And…yeah. I don't know what she would find either…. So Itami waht do we do now?" He whistles at Tenshi to come here and Tenshi does just that before Hiroto speaks to him real quick. "Tenshi. Could you…. sit at the window. Maybe tell us if someone is coming or we should see anything." Tenshi makes his way to the window just like that.
Ari-lizard-clone climbs onto Tenshi! Ari-lizard sorta keeps scouting around the area, nose wrinkling as the scent of metal permeates EVERYTHING. Yuck! Arika grumbles since she isn't sure she can find anything new… But she keeps wandering around the catacombs. Partly because she is a bit lost…
"…I don't know. The only thing that we've discovered so far about the scene is that one of my pens was discovered there. This is a heavy implication and not because it implies I'm guilty, but it casts doubt and that's all people need sometimes," Itami offers. "If doubt is there, it can spread and no one would need to know the truth in order to draw conclusions. This jeopardizes me heavily and my family by extension," she sighs. "But I can't give up. I have to determine what's going on here, somehow."
So far, there is nothing that appears to need searching for in the catacombs. It's just this scene and nothing more. Although, there may be some differences if the eye is keen enough…or maybe the mind.
Hiroto sighs and rubs at the back of his head. "Yeah. I doubt you did it though. Though… where were you during all this time. You have an alibi I hope. Because even if I believe you.. It is good to have proof of all that to show where you were when everything happened." He frowned and shook his head. "I hope you do."
Arika feels like she's going around in circles! D: She looks around as if there may be something up… But .. ~I think we're facing…~ 'I dun wanna…' ~Do it anyway, or I'll do it for you!~ 'But…' ~*pinch*~ 'OW! You dun gotta do that ;.;' ~Apparently I do *pinch*~ 'Nuh-uh! I'll do it myself!' Arika huffs and closes her eyes for a moment, making the handseal. 'Kai!' … 'Did it work?'
"I wasn't in the catacombs. I was resting at home," Itami explained to Hiroto. "So, I know I wasn't responsible, but that won't mean much to people if they begin to associate me with the problem that's happened," she states. "I don't have much proof other than my word, though," she shook her head.
The catacombs are unchanging, that much is certain, but one thing that does change is the crime scene. It…disappears entirely. All that's left behind is just the darkness of the catacombs and whatever light that comes from nearby torches. The team that was sent to investigate was still trying to work through and find clues about what's going on, completely unaware that they've been the victim of a genjutsu this entire time. The claw marks, scents, fire, and the mutilated bodies all disappear to leave behind the cool and unsettling depths of the underground.
Hiroto nods a bit. "I believe you. Now… what do we do next? Should I go join Arika in the catacombs? Do you want me to do more up here and go question people or…maybe try to spy on a few of the folks around here. I must be honest though I have not actually practiced any spying or stealthing." He chuckled a bit before stretching. "So?"
Arika blinks a bit at the sudden change. 'Oh, you were right…' ~See?~ 'Don't sound so smug!' :< Arika grumbles a bit to herself and skitters out of the catacombs, finding the exit much easier now that everything is no longer illusion. The girl would then have her clone disappear, and Itami and Hiroto and Tenshi might hear the *POOF* of a shadow clone dispersing while Arika headed back to the visiting center … Still in mini-lizard form.
"This may be your chance to practice on those two things, then. I want to look into Ume and I think you may be able to help accomplish this," Itami stepped up to the window the Arika clone escaped through. "I know my family isn't responsible, but I can't rightly speak out in their favor given my position. So, I need evidence mounted in favor of them. Additionally, I'll need something to work with on Ume. I…don't like where this is going."
Itami's words are summed up with the poof and disappearance of the clone. "Hmm. Wonder what she may have found…?"
Hiroto shrugs a bit and looks back at the poof sound spot before looking back at Itami. "Alright I suppose. I can do whatever you need, but like I said I could use practice. So…don't expect me to report back with anything that helps right away." He sighed, but figured best way to learn was by doing. "So… I suppose for now we are through? I am sure you know where to find me when you need me… Unless I am needed now that is." He looked towards the exit.
"I wouldn't expect you to. Just so long as you can gather something." Itami smirked. "So yes, we are through for now. I appreciate you being here, though. Thank you. I'd thank Arika, but she's not here anymore," she chuckled. "We'll get through this. I think I'll be alright and you all should be too. We'll all get through this and hopefully, have this mystery solved before it becomes too much of an issue."
Hiroto nods. "Yeah. I would like to have a rest now. Surely once I get a weeks rest I will want more to do though." He sighed. "But…this is fine. I will try when I can to find something. I guess I will be going now Itami." He smiled and started walking to the door. "See ya later." And with that he stepped outside.
Arika suddenly appears in not-lizard form, tackling into Hiroto as he turned to go. "Itami-cha-*meep!*" *crash* "Itami-Chan!" She sits on Hiroto's stomach and bounces up and down, likely knocking the wind from him…
"Rest up. No need to tackle it all in one go." Speaking of tackling, an Arika shows up to take down Hiroto to the ground. "Yes, Arika?" She questioned. "I'm glad to see you're back safe. I wasn't sure what to think."
Hiroto groaned as she started bouncing all the air away from his system. Instinctively he grabbed on her sides to stop her and sset her off to the side of him. It took him a moment to catch his breath before he could speak. "Arika…. Be careful… THat was my stomach." He rubbed at his belly. "What you find?" He just sat up and sat on the floor.
Arika wriggle. "I went down t' the cat of combs 'n looked around a bit. 'n Hachi-jii said that something was odd and he poked me a bunch, so I…" She paused, then made a shadow clone that would go to whisper in Hiroto's ear while she went over to whisper to Itami. "It was a 'lusion!" she whispers.
"An illusion?" Itami would have spoken up much strongly, but she wanted to keep this information a secret. The whole thing was an illusion! "This is wonderful news, Arika. Thank you for revealing this to the both of us. Now, keep this contained to yourself, alright?" The Kazekage raised her sights to Hiroto and smiled in relief.
Hiroto blinked a few times and looked over to Itami. "Nice… well I think Arika has earned herself a treat of Mochi for this news. Lets go!" He slowly got up and started once more to head for the door. "Come on Arika."
Arika beams and climbs onto Hiroto's back. The real one, not the clone. The clone disappeared. "I dunno who's behind all it, though…" she says with a small frown. "But le's get mochi! C'n it be strawbee..?"