Date: August 28, 2012
Kirau of Iwagaukre's Murasame clan (who was taken in by Kirigakure after fleeing from his village) returns from Sunagakure, looking forward to enjoying some cusine which is more to his taste than food from the desert. He is encountered by another Chuunin from the village, Akari of the Touketsu, and the two socially awkward ninja work out a give-take method of extracting information from one another. After finishing their respective meals - Kirau departs, with Akari making the descision to follow him out of suspicion.
"Discussions over Eel"
Food Stalls (Unagi Stand)
Kirau – 1
Sand between his toes… Kirau could still feel it as he sat at the counter of the nearest unagi stand that he could find. No more food from the desert, forest, or anywhere else. He longed for the familiar taste of Kirigakure's diet - hardly pausing to consider that such foods had become familiar to him now, when not so long ago the idea of devouring a black wriggling eel had seemed a repulsive concept.
Akari – 1
Akari sometimes wished for something a little different from fish - the staple of Kiri grew tiring when she had grown up eating it. An inconsequential day of training in preparation for a mission or reassignment, and… it had a chance of ending in fish. Still, walking slowly through the food stands and perusing the selection, she could hardly say she disliked it. It was just inferior to new tastes and flavours, and at least the food stalls sold much more than just fish and squid and duck. Catching sight of another ninja, she inclined her head in a cool nod of acknowledgement.
Kirau – 2
Handed a plate of steaming freshwater eel by a grim-faced woman with loose ropey hair, Kirau flared his nostrils to drink in the warm scent. He'd missed it… he honestly had. The food in Sunagakure had consisted mostly of flatbreads and pickled preserves that would last through the harsh desert heat… very dry food, and often too sour for his taste. His escort… that boy who wore that stupid mask and called himself Keiji, had probably been hiding all the good food from him. That, and given him a black eye.
Although absorbed in his meal, Kirau was not completely oblivious to his surroundings however. He reacted quickly to the presence of another ninja his age, a girl he knew he'd seen hanging around the village, but never associating with anybody that he could tell. He returned the nod, trying to detect any hidden meaning behind her stare beyond common curiosity.
Akari – 2
Stepping closer to examine the unagi, Akari didn't quite look over at the other shinobi's plate. Eel always tasted good, no matter how tired she was of fish, and there was no sign of the more expensive and rare citrus flavoured dishes she favoured. Twitching her shoulders in a resigned shrug, she moved to the front of the stall. "A plate of unadon," she said quietly, handing over the required amount of money. The smell of sizzling fish surrounded the stall briefly, and she then took the offered plate of eel heaped upon rice. A familiar meal, of course. She had eaten its like quite a few times since her graduation. Before then, of course, her diet had been much more… strict.
The other got a second, longer glance now as she plucked a set of chopsticks and split them. He looked vaguely familiar. Another Chuunin, probably, but not part of her class - not that she recalled her classmates at the Academy well anyways. "Hello," she said, a little slowly. She didn't need to use a perona in her own village, not when she was on free time, but it still felt… a little odd to act as herself.
Kirau – 3
Taking a single parcel of flesh wrapped in nori and steamed rice, Kirau popped it into his mouth and chewed blissfully. Savouring the sweet, succulent flesh with the salty tang of dark soy, the sensation already making his travel-weary body feel rejuvenated from his long journey home. At least here, in Kirigakure, he was certainly safer than in any other country… the other Murasame clan members couldn't touch him here. They wouldn't!
Of course, he wasn't exactly fully accepted here himself. Which is why he reacted with mild surprise at receiving an actual greeting. That girl was still here? Hesitant to respond at first, he stared at her… searching her features for any sign of familiarity. "I remember you… I think." he mused aloud. "From the Chuunin exams. I was in the stands… the wind was howling." Yes, he was sure she was the same one. But he couldn't recall her name at all. Only that she had obviously been deemed skilled enough to pass, like he had. "Kirau." Muttered the boy, making the first introduction himself.
Akari – 3
Akari tilted her head, chewing idly on her own morsel of eel and rice. She wasn't looking carefully, but she thought she saw a flicker of… something when she spoke. Surprise? Had he thought she was mute? Or perhaps he was surprised that she was speaking when they were clearly both eating. There could have been quite a few reasons for it, and even more if she considered him a threat - but no, this was a chance encounter. Nothing more than that.
The mention of the Chuunin exams elicited another nod. "Yes, we probably saw each other then. I have seen you before as well, a few times. A face in the crowd." After a moment, as he introduced himself quietly, she did the same. "Touketsu Akari." No clan name - was he an orphan or simply didn't wish to reveal it?
Kirau – 4
Kirau almost bit his tongue when the kunoichi gave her response. The subject of clan names was indeed something he didn't like to advertise, and his lips twisted slightly, as if he still had something sour from his visit to Sunagakure stuck in his throat. All the same, he felt compelled to reciprocate. Just as she had to his introduction.
"Murasame Kirau." Even if she didn't know the history of his clan, the fact that it wasn't native to Kirigakure was more than enough detail for a perceptive ninja to speculate. He fought back the urge to scowl and swallowed another mouthful of hot rice. "I was taken into the village not long before the exam. Generously." That explanation seemed vague enough, true though it was. There was no need to mention amnesty or begging unless he was directly questioned about it. Almost as if to point it out - he reached up and rubbed his fingers over the Kiri protector he wore around his neck. The symbol of his allegiance to the village.
Akari – 4
Akari kept her expression fixed in a vaguely interested and polite smile. A foreign clan - a member of one who had been taken in by the village. As a hostage, or out of his own free will? She had heard the name before, but couldn't recall if it was one with a kekkai genkai or not. Regardless, he was… not of Kiri originally, but taken in. Generously, as he pointed out. "Many think this village harsh, but it can be generous," she agreed. "I was taken in by the Touketsu clan when my parents died." Despite the subject, her voice remained relatively light. It had been a long time ago, and her parents were half-remembered voices and shapes, now.
Information for information - she had offered the same context as he had, settling into the conversation as simple back and forth. Easier than some of her encounters in the Academy and as a genin, to be completely honest about it.
Kirau – 5
Swallowed almost with relief. Some others in the village had scrutinized his circumstances in a much harsher light, or at least not had the courtesy to keep their objections quiet. He nodded abruptly in agreement. "Yes. I'm very… grateful." That was an understatement. Without the sanction offered by Kiri, it would be safe to say that his clan would have stripped him of his bloodline. His ties with them would have been cut either way.
Clearing his plate of unagi, he swept the plate aside, momentarily considering leaving the stand right then and there. This girl was difficult to read, and she hadn't immediately denounced him as an outsider to his face. It was tempting to stick around a while longer… but also there was the chance that things could change as quickly as the weather. "I've never heard of the Touketsu clan. But you used the wind quite well, as I recall." Torn between leaving and staying, he lingered while he tried to make up his mind. "Were you entered solo as well? I don't remember seeing you with a team."
Akari – 5
Akari stirred her rice absently. Did he really not know? That backed up his story of being taken in by Kirigakure recently - anyone who stayed long learned quickly about the more prominent clans. How could she even go about explaining it to an outsider? "It takes in orphans, and those without clans, and gives them a home," she said blandly. Of course, any too weak or frail to become shinobi were not welcome - her clan was not one of kindness, but necessity. It made weapons. Still, it was perhaps best to not reveal anything about that, even if it was practically common knowledge. He had a good eye, though, to distinguish her from the rest during the Exam. "No, my teammates were both defeated in earlier bouts. I was the only one left."
She was at a loss of what else to say. It was fitting for her to seem polite and well-mannered, but… she didn't want to feed him too much information by accident. It was always good to have secrets, after all. Another half-hearted poke at the rice and eel, before she resumed eating once more, waiting for him to say something else.
Kirau – 6
Still remaining where he was for the time being, Kirau nodded, since his acquaintance had already announced herself as orphaned before. He didn't inquire any more about her clan though, since it seemed they'd come to an unspoken arrangement of mutual exchange. The more information he sought, the more he was obligated to give. "The Murasame are from Iwagakure. And by pledging loyalty to this village… I'm compromising the secret of their bloodline." Fixing her with his stare, he expected her to be suspicious. But to actually confess to that was laying his cards on the table. Simply admitting that he had nowhere else to go wouldn't immediately gain him things like trust… or acceptance. He knew that.
But it was still pertinent information. And assuming she was following along with their silent accord, worth at least something in return.
Akari – 6
So. A bloodline, was it? It was suspicious that he told her all that so quickly, unless he wanted her to leap to a conclusion…. She frowned slightly, and focused on finishing her plate. "I am sure the Mizukage is grateful for your courage in coming here," she said quietly, trying to work through the knots of his reason for being here. Was it really all so simple? Perhaps he held a grudge….
"The Touketsu guard Kirigakure. Everyone they take in is meant to become a shinobi, or is cast out. The clan's sole loyalty is to the village." She smiled, but it was a tight expression - less out of emotion and more at not using it much on her own. "Of course, we have no bloodline to speak of."
Kirau – 7
His courage in coming here? No, he couldn't admit to that. Turning away from her was his response, shame-faced and loathe to tell her how he'd begged the hunter-nin on his knees, grovelling in the dirt and close to starvation. Kirigakure's aid came with a price. Turning his back on his heritage, his soul was bought and paid for now. The fact that he wore his forehead protector around his neck - like a collar, was symbolic of far more than just his loyalties.
As for this girl… she had no bloodline. And yet, she was powerful. Capable of winning strength on her own terms. "I envy you." he murmured, fully aware that the only reason he had managed to remain alive so far was due to what was now a stolen kekkei genkai. "It might seem a bit soon to say it. I never got to see you fight as much as I'd have liked, but I do envy your skill."
Akari – 7
Akari tilted her head, pondering his statement. To speak of envy so freely - either it was a deception or maybe… well, maybe it was genuine. Was this an Iwa trait, to speak without restraint? It was almost refreshing. Of course, she couldn't admire it too much, in case it really was a trap. Her clan had instilled that into her as well, of course - the knowledge that even here, with bones and frost and the harshness clear to see, the mist could hide and deceive.
"Skill is something that is learned and taught. I had the advantage of being taken in when I was young, and being strong enough to go through the training. Most of my clan become raised to Chuunin on the first try. Not necessarily because we are better, but because more is sacrificed." That was almost a little too much, and she returned her now empty plate to the stall. "Some would envy you your bloodline, and whatever abilities you have." Envy and bitterness at being replaced was strong in some of the Touketsu members. Even mentioning the Kaguya could set some of the more extreme ones off.
Kirau – 8
Of course he'd heard this kind of lecture before. His father had tried to instill toughness into him with harshness and humiliation - to push him over the edge and get him to fight back. And he had. Since both he and Akari had finished their meals now, if they remained, the stall manager would likely be angry at them for taking up space. Stepping away from the counter, he considered that his bloodline was indeed something rare… but in a way, that was also a disadvantage.
"The abilities of my bloodline. Yes, that's what people value about me." Speaking with the faint hint of a sneer, he carried on bitterly. "I don't want that alone of be the measure of my worth to this village. That would be a poor show of gratitude…" Folding his arms, Kirau felt frustrated and confined. Limited to a single purpose, like a tool with only one function. "Telling you all this changes nothing. But you have actually been helpful, so thank you Akari-san." Expecting her to leave soon, he briefly pondered on what else he would do with his afternoon. Arching his back slightly as a parting show of respect.
Akari – 8
Was this what bothered him? Akari had little to say to it. "Then… I suppose you must be more than your bloodline alone," she said carefully. She knew a little less of such things, of course, but strength was strength. "If you have skills beyond it, if you are strong without relying on it all the time - then surely that should be enough. As long as you are strong, little else matters." Everything for the mission, everything for the village - she had learned that a long time ago.
"I don't really know how I helped you, but… this has been interesting. It was nice to meet you…" Using his clan name could be a little cruel, given the conversation. "Kirau-san." He got a shallow bow in return and then straightened. Was he going to leave now? If he did, well… it could be a test of his ability, if she followed him. Besides, her afternoon seemed to stretch on, consisting only of training, and until she was assigned to something, there really was nothing else to do.