Date: September 22, 2013
Kazuo and Kuoroke engage in their first session of diplomacy!
"Diplomacy: Fire and wind - I"
Ono Teahouse [Konohagakure]
Down a narrow path partly obscured by trees and brush is an ancient-looking manor that seems oddly warm and inviting despite the old, chipped dragon statues on the lawn that give it the potential to look quite haunted. Upon entrance, a patron's senses would be caressed by the strong, sweet scent of home-grown tea and an ever present, cozy warmth. The lights are low, coming mainly from candles and the occasional brazier.
The house is in the shape of a C, having the main hall and two branches that curl around a beautiful tea garden and koi pond. Small tables are scattered in secluded areas of the garden, inviting guests to enjoy the calm, peaceful aura that lingers throughout Hitomi's home.
One branch is closed off, no doubt consisting of Hitomi's living quarters. But the other is open to the garden, looking like a long-forgotten training room. Weapons are set upon the walls, polished and ancient. The stands of armor and artifacts along this wing give off the feeling of a museum. This long, open hall has been retired as a training facility and any who wish to practice the martial arts would be quickly corrected by the lady of the house.
As for the main hall, small, square tables are scattered throughout. All are low to the ground and cushions are placed around each for sitting. The tables are set meticulously and all obsessively identical. A candle is placed in the very center of each, along with a small pitcher of milk set within a bowl of ice. Then there are pyramids of sugar cubes for those that wish it. At each side, a pristine fabric napkin is folded with a spoon laid atop it. Part of the hall is set up very much like a bar, without the stools. The attire of it would hint that this is where payments are made and the orders are prepared.
Kazuo was still on her diplomatic rampage, first Kiri, then Kumo… Now it was suna's turn! Thing is, she was needed at home to set up the embassy, so this time she did a little differently. The Ono teahouse was rented off, and Suna was invited to send a diplomatic envoy to join Konoha's lovely Kazuo for a traditional tea ceremony. Upon entrance of the village Kuoroke got a friendly escort, a diplomatic residence, some coupons he could use for free food and beverages, a guide to find whatever he needs, and an invitation to meet Kazuo in a few hours (around 4pm) at the Ono teahouse, plus the offer of a lovely escort (really, she is lovely) towards said tea-house.
Kuoroke doesn't trust the whole situation, nor does he like it too much: he isn't one for ceremonies, and living by someone else's schedule is rife with risk. But, for the sake of his host and the possible benefits this meeting may have, he'll endure. The last time he was in Konoha, during the exams, he and his team had occupied a cheap little inn with nothing but the basic necessities, and secured as much as they could without drawing attention. So the diplomatic residence is a sharp change of pace, and again one he's not necessarily thrilled about, which doesn't stop him from expressing his deepest gratitude for the provided home.
Kuoroke spends some of the time he has free to prepare: since his normal attire is utilitarian in nature, he has had to dig up one of the official outfits usually reserved for diguises. Whatever time is left, he spends leisurely walking about Konohagakure, careful to use as few coupons as he can get away with without looking ungrateful for the offered hospitality, and no more -more concealed paranoia- and making irrelevant small talk with his friendly escort.
And so, at four hours precisely to the minute, Kuoroke arrives, accompanied by the offered lovely escort -he decides that if she's an assassin or a spy sent to to him, it's best not to reveal he suspects as much-, at the Ono tea house's door, a polite, but neutral expression on his face, and hands folded behind his back.
Kazuo bows deeply for Kuoroke when he entered, she was sitting on her knees (on a pillow) in front of a low table. The equipment and tea was already set and ready for the ceremony. Kazuo herself remained in total silence. A meditative atmosphere was gently floating around the tea house. Kazuo, despite her daredevil and wild nature, loved the silence and the meditation, especially when it could be shared with someone. Tea ceremonies tell you a lot about who you're dealing with.
Kazuo is wearing a prestine white Kimono, the Sarutobi clan symbol decorating her back. Only part of her tatoo by her neck is visible. Her hair is beautifully organised in a knot with one stroke remaining straight, falling down over the shoulder. The knot is held up by a black pin. The end of the pin has a pink and white flower on top. She smiles politely, carefully preparing the tea as Kuoroke sits down. The door behind them is closed, and now… There is silence.
There was no need for lenghty introductions. They knew who they were dealing with, names were redundant, there was enough time for speech later. Kazuo gently, soundlessly uses the quill like tool to steer the tea and create a foam like texture. Before pouring Kuoroke a cup first, waiting for him to complete his side of the ceremony (bow, place the tea on a flat left hand, turning it a full circle (360 degrees) in three movements of the right hand, turning to the right) She then, pours a cup for herself, bows and takes a sip before placing it down, closing her eyes and enjoying the silence. The whole tea house has been rearranged to follow the rules of Zen and Feng Shui, and it was tangible, things felt 'just right' .. It took a day of redecorating to get everything into a perfect position, but Kazuo was happy with the results!
Kuoroke follows the details of the ceremony meticulously: while he doesn't value it, he has the eye for detail. He offers Kazuo a bow - slow, measured, fitting into the calm atmosphere she's created here, even if internally he's running through all the dirty tricks -he- could come up with to exploit this situation if he were the host. As expected of him, he picks up the cup, places it on his hand, and turns it, before turning himself. The Kuroki, too, listens to the silence, but it brings no calm to him. Instead, he continues stressing his ears until he can hear sounds: the breath of the other people in the room, the air flowing through the room, the life outside, and anything that could bear the slightest bit of information about his surroundings.
Kazuo calmly takes her sip, sighing and enjoying the tea. She made a point of sipping first and using the same tea to show it was all safe. Kuoroke's tension was obviously not lost on her, but she considered his position and didn't think too much of it for now. It was natural, and all she could do was show him his paranoia was, while wise, unnecasery. "Kuroki-sama…" She begins, while pouring the second cup. "Your family…" She pauses. "Has always been a great interest of mine." She continues.
"Your expertise with tattoo's is… Facinating." She smiles and nods at Kuoroke. "And your wisdom is, unprecidented." She looks around. "The friendliest attempt is also, understandably, the one you'll want to be most weary off. Did you go to diplomatic school as well? I was at Ichigo-sodai, in the land of tea by the docks. Great university, little too close to home if you ask me.." She then relaxes back into a meditative silence, beginning to drink from her second cup of tea.
Kazuo has had the misfortune to be sitting with what might be the only Kuroki in existence with no interest in art whatsoever, but he pretends well enough. "Thank you, from my relative's name, not from my own: I don't wield the needle, myself, others are far more skilled than I am, so I'm afraid my ability" -and his willingness- "to delve into the practical aspects is limited. But I am sure those who actually drew these lines will be glad to know their skill is appreciated at such distances." He, too, sips the tea, and continues with the next subject. "I have, actually, not: most of my knowledge has been passed on to me by my parents. As I'm sure you know, our family had a rather nomadic lifestyle in the past, so they had some practical experience."
Kazuo nods and exposes her shoulder for a moment, showing her tattoo.. "I'm facinated by Tats I guess, it's an artform much like the tea ceremonie." She smiles and slips back into a meditative zen, now pouring a third cup for both of them, the calming green tea doing what it's supposed to be doing. "Hm, so now we're settled in, I guess it's time to get to the point." Kazuo smiles. "I am assigned Konoha's lead diplomate, many affairs will go through me. And hopefully we'll get to see eachother more often in your hometown as well." She obviously means Suna. "It's an honour to meet one of Suna's esteemed council members." Kazuo makes a small appreciative bow. "And this ceremony is.. Lets see a start to what hopefully will be a series of succesful diplomatic negotiations that will benefit both our villages."
To that, the Councillor can agree: tattoos and the ceremony both are an artform that, to him, are but a means to a goal. Kuoroke gives a nod as Kazuo offers to get to the point, indicating both an agreement and his appreciation for her speeding up their approach to that goal. "I will try to show you as much hospitality as you showed me." he answers. With a small bow, he adds, "As it is an honour to meet the leader of a clan as respectable as the Sarutobi. I share your hope that our cooperation will benefit both our homes. Now that we've come to that subject: is there anything in particular we can aid your -and mine-" the last part, although the most important to Kuoroke, is added as an afterthought, "with that you wished to discuss?"
Kazuo contemplates and nods. "I personally am a firm believes of Osmosis.." She explains. "If we both set a collaborate effort towards a unified goal, as a complimantary effect, relationships will improve, providing more space for cooperation." Kazuo pauses. "I think, the old way of thinking diplomacy is both outdated and warmonging. I personally don't hate wars as a principal. The collateral damage, children… Mothers, innocent crops and animals. Those are the things I wish to avoid." Kazuo nods. "I will be honest, my goal, in the long term, is to provide our villages with a structure that will provide us an alternative to the bloody wars we used to know, while making lifes of all our citizents more comfortable." She smiles at Kuoroke. "One way to do that is to promote trade. Or to provide diplomatic solutions to conflict." She pauses and takes a sip.
"Luckily, unlike your allies, Kirigakure, Suna has a timid reputation when it comes to wars. You do not blindly jump into a conflict without assesing it properly. And exploring other options. A very admirable quality." She smiles. "Due to our similarities in that field, I do not fear a sudden war." She pauses. "The current structure of alliances however has caused friction, fear to trade and travel freely. On both sides. Time is money, and yet traders decide to go around our respective lands, denying Konoha and Suna trade that we could easily provide for and profit off." Kazuo smiles. "It's why, as a first small step, I believe we should both proclaim a guarentee over our mutual trade." Kazuo pauses. "An official declaration that, under no circumstances, even a war, someone unaffiliated to a village, yet part of a merchants craft, will be attacked or hindered in their trade." Kazuo pauses. "This should help restore confidence in trade between our villages, and sends a strong message that we are not currently on the brink of war, but instead, in diplomatic engagements which strive to achieve the opposite." Kazuo smiles. "In the long term, I would like to establish a free trade agreement between our lands. This however will take time, and the traders guarentee, making it illegal to attack any neutral traders within the zone of the land of wind and fire, proclaimed by both our villages, will be a great step in that direction." A great step that is yet so minor. Perfect in Kazuo's mind. "It will also help Suna to keep their supplies of water up, especially with summer starting. To strengthen our deal, Konoha is offering to provide you with a monthly supply of a hundred gallons of clean, fresh water, until the end of summer."
"I feel it is hard to distinguish war as a principle and the many consequences we'd rather avoid, including the collateral damage you refer to." Kuoroke answers. "Which is why I entirely agree with your goal to, if not abolish them entirely, make them as unlikely as possible. As you say, we are not a particularly warlike people, because we value human life and happiness that war threatens." He nods slightly. "The goal is sound, admirable even." He leaves a pause, considering his next words. "However, a wording this broad may be a risk. Even when both of us -and I mean this both personally and in terms of our villages- have the best of intentions towards one another, not everyone out there stands to gain from such an agreement, and would happily stretch it to the limit."
Kuoroke, too, takes a sip, mentally calculating how much a hundred gallons of water would help his village during the summer. Quite a bit, as it turns out. "So, we must construct solid, dependable limits. Starting with a good definition of the 'merchants craft'. How would you define such a member?"
Kazuo nods and pauses. "At this very moment, while agreeing with you completely…" Kazuo says, pausing. "To avoid war would be the ultimate goal." She looks at Kuoroke and nods at his assesment. "You're right… People will try to stretch that to its limit. It's while my description is broad now, our final agreement needs to be sharp as a tack." She nods and agrees defining a merchant would be a good idea. "A neutral merchant is someone, who as his primary and only trade travels, buys and sells wares." She pauses.
"A merchant may not be currently holding or maintaining any crops or strategic assets. May not be involved with a village in any way, this includes family ties." Kazuo pauses. "I think we should establish a registry for traders to assign to. Additionally, these traders may not physically threaten any citizent of our respective lands. Doing so will permanently waiver their guarentee." Kazuo pauses.
"I stress neutral merchant, because I am realistic in the respect that, while we both try to avoid war, it is still a possibility. Maintaining a traders neutrality in such a state is impossible for affiliated traders." Kazuo says. "Hence, the neutrality of a merchant being such a prominent factor."
Kuoroke frowns a bit, staring off into the distance. "Being a registered trader, in either country, would already be a form of affiliation with that village, as a registration would already declare them a… how should I put this… a member of our economical system. The agreement would be internally conflicting. In either case, I would specify the trade of -legally available- goods, as in its current form your definition protects even human traffickers from prosecution." He considers the various options. "I would instead suggest that we are not to interfere with anyone who has been established to have, as a primary source of revenue, defined as at keast say 70 or 80 percent of their total income, the sale and resale of goods, and the transport of said goods necessary for this and that this protection becomes null for anyone who commits or participates in a criminal or military action against either village."
Kazuo nods and agrees with Kuoroke's wording. Considering any loopholes. After she considered to her satisfaction she nods. "That sounds like a good medium." She completely agrees on the legally available part. Which is clear by a nod and a smile. She's happy she's got both a wise and a smart partner. She has no problem with a shrewed diplomat who tries to get the most out of the deal for their own village. It's in fact, a respectable quality. Which often also hints on a degree of trustworthyness. "This sounds like a really feasible agreement. We guarentee the merchant's safety in our respective zones. From both the villages and bandits and the likes." Kazuo smiles and nods. "It sounds like we're very close to an implementable mandate." She looks at Kuoroke. "Shall I take the liberty to write it up, get it signed by our Kage and hand it to you for your journey back so you can have your part signed?" Kazuo pauses. "I wouldn't mind the reverse of that either, if you wish to be the one composing the documents." Kazuo pauses. The warm feeling in her stomach rising, she was close to brokering a successful deal. One step closer to a more permanent peace!
Kuoroke's face smiles. Just the face: no matter how genuie it looks, an inch deeper, there is no smile to be found. "Cooperation between us, so far, has been fruitful, so I suggest we cooperate on it." The smile melts away and makes place for one of his many scowls. "Actually, I would be careful with the guarantee to keep them safe from bandits and the like. You have to understand, while we have a great interest in keeping merchants safe, the land of Wind is a dangerous place by itself, and it's difficult to scour a desert for criminals. I'd hate to make a promise on which we can't deliver. Not interfering with people established to be merchants, as I described before, we can promise, but protecting them is something we can -try- to do, but never guarantee." He continues scowling. "In addition, if it would come to war, and again I don't mean Konoha but virtually anyone, this would be an easy way to tie down our forces: simply commit a small, but powerful team to harass merchants."
Kazuo nods. "Correct, besides, merchants have hired protection in the past, so we can stick to that system." Kazuo came prepared, which conjured a laugh of her own on her face. She quickly reaches below the table for a large piece of parchment, along with a quill and ink, putting it down so it all faces Kuoroke, and he can write with ease. "Excuse me for breaking rituals so blatently." She says, she always was utilistic.. She then shifts her chair so she's sitting next to Kuoroke, should he allow it, facing the parchment. "So we proclaim we strive to protect trade from all threats, but can not guarentee the safety of the merchants from threats outside our respective villages." Kazuo grabs the quill, thinks of a nice name and notes it down at the head of the document: Hikaze Anzen Chitai - ((The flaming-wind safety zone))