Date: July 20, 2010
The performer "Lady Ryoko" is headed to the town where her next performance will be held. Unfortunately, there are some rather violent criminals who want to make sure she never reaches her destination…
Western Plains - Land of Grass
Having held their first appearance and performance within the Land of Grass, a concert that had debuted within a large village on an important trade route through the wester Land of Grass, the entourage of the Lady Ryoko had packed up and departed several days later, after an appropriate amount of time of 'rest' for the starlet. Most of which she had used to run up exorbitant hotel bills. It was a good thing that her real goal was not to make a profit, or this venture was already off to a poor start.
Regardless, the procession, nearly thirty people in all, including the six hired guards, were currently trekking along the road towards the Land of Wind, heading for yet another town, this one larger, that was on the border of the two countries, where the Lady's second performance was to take place.
The procession was more or less orderly, with three wagons carrying all the necessary goods, such as their supplies, belongings, and Ryoko's many chests of clothes. Two of the guards walked in the fore, two more brought up the rear, and the final two walked on either side of the dancing singer's palanquin, which was born by a pair of burly porters. The rest of the people were all on foot, as the animals were used either to draw the carts, or for simply carrying packs on their back. A fat businessman strode somewhere in the middle, continually jerking loose his tie and mopping sweat from his brow as he huffed and puffed along the trail. He was the Lady's promotional manager, responsible for making sure her ascent to the top of the red carpet crowd went smoothly and quickly, if he didn't die from exercise first.
Datura opens one of the small sliding windows, barely big enough for her head to fit through, of the small box she was being carried in, then, a moment later, opens the one on the opposite side, sweeping a beautifully-crafted, delicate paper fan back and forth before her face in order to cool herself and allow ventilation within. Her kimono was of light silk, which prevented unladylike beads of sweat from being able to form upon her as they pressed onward under the noonday sun towards the ever-scorched Land of Wind.
Up ahead, the path curves around a bluff, which promised a bit of shade as they passed beneath it, and came near to a stream on the other side. Noticing this, the younger blonde snaps her fan closed, reaching a hand out to gesture towards the spot.
"There would be a lovely enough place to bed down for a bite, wouldn't it?"
The fat merely nods and huffs his agreement as he swipes an already-soaked kerchief across his dripping forehead. There was no arguing with the spoiled diva, after all, not if one wanted to keep their job. And he was aware that 'Lady Ryoko' was capable of taking away far more than that for seemingly trivial affronts.
Walking through the wind country, his raven black hair is blown about. It had been a long week, but pleasent. Shinji stops for a moment and looks up into the sky, it is a very nice day out, especially for travelling. Shinji smiles a bit to himself, then reaches back with his left hand to rub the back of his neck. "What a day." he says then continues on the path he was walking. He didn't carry anything with him, except for a small pouch and a wooden drinking bottle. The wooden bottle is tied to his hip and it bounces along as he walks.
Hazel colored eyes take in whatever he sees, looking up down and from side to side, Shinji may not look it, but he sees quite a bit. The sound of a hawks cry echos and he looks up and watches as the hawk flies off in the opposite direction. He brings his left hand around to cover his eyes as he watches the bird fly off. The suns glare is kept from his eyes slightly. As the hawk flies off over a cliff, Shinji continues walking.
With all the money that Lady Ryoko had been throwing around in the last town, in terms of hotel expenses and so forth, word had trickled down to some of the less well-intentioned members of society. From there, questions were asked, people were spied upon, and plans were drawn up. Now there are at least two-dozen of the most desperate, greedy, and violent thugs in the general area lurking atop the bluff. The idea is to steal anything of value, kidnap the musical young woman, and ransom her to whomever valued her. Probably her family, or her recording company, or whatever. They didn't really think this through to well. If they were >smart< they probably could have gotten jobs instead of having to steal for a living.
As the procession continues along the road, the bandit gang waits until the front has passed by and the middle is directly below. Then, they give up the element of surprise in favor of yelling out all at once, in a chorus of hostile-sounding battle cries. Some drop down via ropes attached to metal spikes planted in the cliff face, while others just try to slide down, or run to a less elevated position to leap down and circle in from behind. The lack of coordination in their assault tells quite a bit of their lack of experience and lack of leadership.
However, the more strategically minded ones do head straight for the palanquin in the middle of the group, instead of messing with the animals and crew and so forth as the less-focused ones are. It is likely that Shinji would at >least< hear all the noise, even if he is not within line-of-sight.
Meanwhile, coming from the direction of that town on the border of the Land of Wind and Land of Grass, a woman that greatly resembles Kanami is kneeling with her legs folded underneath her as she sits alongside the same stream that Ryoko had intended to rest by herself. However, this woman has much darker skin-tone than Kanami, and her hair is tied back, with a desert-appropriate cap upon her head to shield her from the sun. The white cloth also has a sort of 'mini-curtain' of fabric that surround her head on all sides except the front. Her clothing is also loose, white, and cinched shut about the openings to keep out sand. In short, she does not really look like the Kanami that some may be familiar with. Instead, she looks like a native of the Land of Wind.
And yet this IS Kanami. Her disguise is necessary for her present mission. The shout that goes up from the bandits echoes around the area, and the disguised Nogakujin turns her eyes only to look in the direction from which it came. There appears to be some people coming around the corner of the bluff, along the road. But they don't look like they're the ones yelling. Then her gaze travels upwards and she sees… A bunch of scruffy-looking men descending gracelessly from above. Hm. They probably do not intend anything good. Well, it is not really her business. Except that if those vagabond marauders are attacking the procession, then once they are done they may decide to come this way. And then they'd want to get rid of any witnesses, or pick up a nice female slave, or whatever the losers might want to do. If she does something NOW, then her chances of fending them off will be much improved. More people to fight alongside means fewer enemies will remain.
Sighing, Kanami of the Desert rises to her feet and starts a moderately fast ninja-style run in the direction of the caravan.
The large troupe of travellers remains unaware of their peril as they head towards their latest destination: the shade. As varied as dangers tended to be, there was usually safety in numbers, and with a traveling band this large, they had nothing to fear from the feral fauna, who tended to avoid large groups of humans, and little to fear from the average thugs, who typically didn't travel in groups of more than two or three. They weren't prepared for the group that awaited them just up the road.
Just as they're passing under the bluff, the fat male, the nominal leader of the group, raises a hand to wheeze out the command to halt for an afternoon meal. After all, the group's pace was leisurely, with no need to hurry towards their next destination. Lady Ryoko wouldn't stand for being hurried.
But the call to halt is interrupted by the riotous war cries of the attacking brigands before the group can even come to a proper stop. Almost as loud as the initial charge of the thugs were the cries of mixed terror and outrage from the entourage. The guards are the only ones who keep their heads, as the rest of the procession is made up of stage hands, porters, beasts of burden, singers, and dancers. Innocents, most of whom were unused to fighting. The women scream and look for a safe shelter to weather this storm, some of the men cower, others reach for makeshift weapons, while yet others try to run. One of the wagonmen decides his chances are much improved if he whips the reins and begins tearing off along the road, intent on running down anything in his way, with most of the group's food. The van and rear guards attempt to instill some order, but with frightened civilians, it's of no use. The two in the rear decide they're not getting paid enough to die, and after trading only a few parrying blows, one, then the other surrenders.
The two in front compose themselves much better, and settle in back-to-back, defending each other, even as they begin to fall back towards the palanquin of their employer.
The pair guarding the Lady Ryoko both slam the mini-windows shut on her palanquin, protecting her from bolts and arrows should this be an assassination attempt, before drawing arms and charging at the men heading towards the blonde's means of transportation. As for the pair of porters carting her, they've both dropped it to the ground, one choosing to fight, the other deciding running was a grand idea.
"W-What is this? What's going on?" Able to hear, but unable to see much through the thin ventilation slats, Datura unhooks one of the latches and opens the side doorway, peering out. Blue eyes go wide at the sight of fighting, or at least dying, since it was more of a slaughter and rout than a pitched battle, her head turning first one way, then the other.
Shinji hadn't progressed to terribly far when the sounds of shouts and screams reaches him, he was about to settle down for a little break but now the screams have gotten his attention. Looking around for a moment, he hadn't seen anyone pass him by or anything, but as he listens more carefully they weren't far off from him. Sighing a little, he quickly races off towards all the commotion. The man isn't slow, but isn't the fastest runner, but being training in martial arts and a ninja kept your body in peek athletic condition. Besides if he manages to help these people, maybe they would allow him to break bread with them and maybe even pay him for his help? Who knows?
As he starts to get closer, Shinji slows down, keeping quiet and surveying the area, he wants to get a drop on the bandits and take them by surprise. Reaching down into a pouch, he takes a kunai in each hand. Using his surroundings, he will look for those who may be the leader of the bandits or the ones closest and attempt to take them out quickly and quietly.
The ambushers are not exactly trained combatants, but they >do< outnumber the defenders, and they have the motivation of money on their side! Some have swords, most have knives, and the really unfortunate (or perhaps over-powered) ones have pointed sticks. They all are very enthusiastic about this attack, since they seem to be winning fairly easily. Even the guards who stick around to fight, and the more loyal of Ryoko's group, are unlikely to stand much of a chance against the press of violent ne'er-do-wells.
There is no real leader per se. There are three or four who fancy themselves to be in charge, but if it came down to it, they'd probably be ignored if they tried to give orders someone didn't like. However, when Shinji comes upon the scene, the ones nearest are those hacking at or clubbing some barely-intact defenders. They've managed to avoid dying or taking severe injuries so far, but it won't be long before the improvised weapons break or someone gets a stick in the eye!
So his decision to move into position and start with the stabbing is rather fortuitous. The bandits either stop attacking suddenly and fall limp to the ground, or just gargle their own blood as they reach futilely for the kunai planted in their backs. In the chaos, it is unlikely that Shinji has much need for stealth, but >someone< is going to spot him ganking their allies and then things won't be nearly as easy—
"HEY!" one of the more situationally aware bandits yells as he notices Shinji's actions. He doesn't get an immediate response from his cohorts, so he breaks away from stabbing a wicker basket full of something expensive, and grabs hold of two nearby fellow bandits. Turning them around he points at Shinji and the corpses lying in his vicinity, and then yells, "GET HIM!" This is one of the guys who thinks he's the leader. In this case, however, the two others obey for the moment — less because of the orders, and more because they realize that Shinji is a threat. The three men charge at the mercenary, wielding poor-quality blades, and try to stab him in the face!
Yeah, masterful planning skills these goons have.
Meanwhile, as Kanami comes from the opposite direction, she would not be immediately targetted. She's further away from the prize at the center, and chasing down those fleeing would be a waste of time for most of these men. They aren't trying to kill everyone, after all. They just want to take what's valuable and get out of there.
Speaking of what's valuable, when Datura opens the door of her travelling box, she confirms her presence to those few who had the wit to focus on the actual target and not get distracted. They charge in, trying to either get into the compartment or grab Ryoko out of it if they can't fit. The idea that she might be armed or able to defend herself never passes through their flea-bitten heads.
Kanami does not immediately leap into the fray and start fighting. For one thing, she's not very strong. Getting into a physical confrontation with these goombas is unlikely to turn out well for her. A second issue is that if she's going to help these people, she should strike when she can do the most damage to the opposition. Recklessly charging ahead would not allow her to recognize the opportunity when it arrives. She is too far away to recognize Ryoko at this point, though she does notice that the carriage-thing is being invaded, and that there is likely someone important within.
Hm. A little less than two dozen enemies, from her count (since at least a few have been taken down by Shinji by this point, reducing their initial numbers), and they don't look like ninja. If they were ninja this fight would have been over already. And yet… As she looks at the utter chaos before her, takes in the sounds of screams and weapons clashing and things breaking… Kanami just gets a feeling that something is off. "Something is wrong," she says outloud. Someone running past her gives her a look like maybe she is a moron, and shouts out, "Ya' think!?" Then he continues running. Kanami doesn't even pay him any mind.
It's a trained instinct of hers. An object at rest tends to stay at rest… To stagnate, and do nothing. An object in motion is a very interesting thing, and so she has spent much time watching things in motion — people going about their daily lives, with a purpose and calm to their actions, as well as the frenzies of people in battle, fighting for their lives with little thought given to grand strategies or complex machinations. This should be the latter instance — chaos, and hectic bloodshed. But somewhere in the mass of bodies, there is something — or someone — moving in counterpoint to the havoc. Somewhere in this mess, an entity is moving with a purpose in mind.
Kanami decides that this entity is likely a leader of some kind — but he or she or it may be something else entirely. Either way, the most dangerous element when everyone else is out of control is the one who has total control. She spots him. A tallish individual in brown robes, WALKING in a straight line towards the palanquin, and being attacked and noticed by no one at all.
Kanami dashes forward, doing her best to evade anything directed at her, and just catch up with that robed figure. If she can reach him, she'll try to get right in this person's path. If he's the leader of the bandits, he can call them off with the right incentive. If he's someone else, maybe he can provide assistance of some kind. And either way, she'll be within range of Ryoko's carriage-thing and able to strike at her kidnappers when their backs are turned.
The guards that stand and fight put up a good struggle. They may not be the best, they may not even be all THAT good, but they're at least skilled, or merely large, enough to be able to deter the average thug. Numbers soon begin to prevail, though, and there aren't nearly enough of them to keep the brigands from reaching Datura's palanquin. The thought of two people fitting inside is laughable, however, unless they were intimately close, and both of them were rather flexible.
As her arm is grabbed, the blonde-haired Ryoko affects a startled gasp and cries out in both alarm and fear, her slender weight easy enough to drag out of the small carrying cart for several brutish bandits. Her gold-colored kimono only allows for rather small steps, being tailored for demure feminity, causing her to stumble to catch her balance as she allows a brief flash of indignation to shine through in her blue eyes.
"KYAAAAH! Unhand me! Stop it! Let go!"
Tiny, pale fists ball up and beat ineffectually at her attackers, and she kicks at their shins with her soft-soled shoes, likely only doing enough damage to earn her a scornful laugh. Or being a big enough nuisance to receive a harsh slap to the face. She continues screeching her damsel in distress cries as she's manhandled out of her transportation and into the waiting arms of unsavory men.
"No! No! Beasts! Take your hands off me!"
One of the guards, the leader, still stands, having won two duels thus far, though he's paid dearly in wounds for those victories, and was unlikely to survive his third if his opponent had comparable skill or a decent weapon, attempting to reach the Lady Ryoko. His guards mostly kept ne'er-do-wells at bay through intimidation and show of force, mostly effective against hostile and unarmed small crowds. Not a rush of deviants large enough to look like a small prison colony break!
"MY LADY! HOLD ON!"
Shinji has managed to take out quite a few of the bandits, but with the lack of guards helping to defend the caravan, he needs to amp things up. He was hoping to keep moving, but now that he was discovered and three men were now advancing on him, Shinji sighs. A bored look on his face as he sighs. Not hesitating in the least, Shinji charges in towards the three men. The two kunais he has in his hands are flung at the men on the left and right of the man in the center. He then leaps into the air, his speed is far faster then a normal man and right for that of a high classed martial artist. Shinji spins in the air rapidly, he kicks out at the last moment towards the middle-man, wannabe leaders neck, aiming to break it with the power and impact of the kick.
Upon landing, Shinji would throw twin punches, a punch for the man on the left and right. Seeing as they may have kunai embeded in them. Leaping over the wannabe leader, Shinji quickly unsheath two more kunai and flinging them towards any other nearby bandits as he tries to quickly make his way towards the woman in the palanquin. This was starting to become a chore, but then again, the pay off could be big. Besides, it's been awhile since he's had a challenge like this in a while.
Shinji's attacks are far too skillful for the thugs to counter or defend against. The central goon's neck snaps easily enough, and one of the other two gets a kunai in his chest, but the third one by pure chance, happens to move his sword into the path of the thrown weapon. The blade >snaps<, but at least he doesn't have a ninja knife sticking out of him. Before he can make good use of this sudden windfall, he is punched in the sternum, knocking the wind out of him. His buddy is not only punched, but also has the kunai shoved deeper into his torso. All three men are down, but only two are dead/dying—Oh, but the third guy just landed on the broken-off end of his own sword. Maybe he wasn't so lucky after all.
The goons that are challenged my Ryoko's main guard try to seperate the two of them. Two of the bad guys stand between the diva and her protector, and the other two try to cart her off. However, they are a bit distracted by the sudden discovery that they have blades protruding from their bodies. Nowhere immediately lethal, sadly, but they may loosen their grip on Ryoko. Shinji's kunai found their marks, but because they were hastily thrown, they did not kill. Still, maybe that was his intent. Lethal accuracy while trying to save someone is sometimes a luxury that cannot be afforded.
Nearby all of this, Kanami has gotten in the way of the man in the brown robe. When she looks upon his face in his hood, she would find… A mass of hairy spiders. The spiders that apparently make up this guy's face skitter down the neck of the robe, out of sight, causing the hood to rapidly empty and then collapse. The robe then bulges all over, and >explodes< as all manner of arachnids go flying in every direction! It seems the person was nothing more than a pillar of spiders that had somehow organized themselves into the rough shape of a person. How they were avoiding being noticed by everyone else is up in the air. The spiders scamper and crawl all over the ground and everything else in the vicinity, and yet they avoid being stepped on, and still don't seem to be noticed by anyone except Kanami, and possibly Datura if she looks in that direction. Where are the spiders going? Out of here, apparently. Whatever they were here for, it seems they don't want it badly enough to risk combat.
…What the heck. They're just spiders! They don't think things through that much! They're probably just being controlled by someone else. Anyway! Kanami is now free to help out, if she cares to. Otherwise, there's two big men with weapons against one wounded guard.
Kanami's eyes widen in surprise. She is not thrilled by the discovery she is facing some kind of… Of… 'Spider man', but she is also not really frightened. Spiders are spiders. They don't go after people and try to kill them. Oh, except for those kinds that are under the control of someone else. But when the robe erupts and sends the creepy crawlies everywhere, it becomes quickly evident that they are fleeing, not sticking around to bite people. So she ignores them after a few seconds of trying to track their escape routes, and then turns her attention on one of the bandits.
The bandit may suddenly find that a python-sized snake has just attached its mouth to the side of his neck via its fangs. The huge snake appears to actually be Kanami's arm, which she has transformed into a serpent somehow. She yanks with it, and tries to tear the man's neck out of the space it is meant to occupy, and probably any life-supporting veins that would be good to not have torn out ordinarily.
If successful, her snake-arm retracts back into her sleeve and turns back into a normal human appendage. Then she would send out a much larger number of snakes from her sleeve, this time leaving her arm un-transformed, in an attempt to poison whichever of the kunai'd thugs looks the most capable of mounting a counter-offensive on Shinji as he gets close enough to help Ryoko to safety.
Kanami still hasn't gotten a good look at the 'Lady Ryoko' yet, but there will be time enough for that when these dimwits are cleared out.
As she's lifted bodily into the air to be carted, off, Datura's voice becomes more shrill, louder, near-hysterical shrieks. By now almost everyone in her party is either fled, too injured to fight, or on the way to being too injured, or dead, to fight. She pounds her fists against one of them, or does her best to, anyway, what with the restraining arms, pummeling and scratching at one of the men's faces, her feet jerking and kicking, trying to wriggle her legs out of the second man's grasp.
"Let go! No! No! Taishi, help me!"
Upon hearing his name, the last of the guards redoubles his efforts to reach his current employer, a true professional to the last, renewing his sword swings with vigor anew, a second wind having come to him. It likely wouldn't last long, steel clashing on steel with a dull roar, and once it ended, the last moments of his life would be upon him. But for now, he's able to not lose ground to the pair of thugs, despite the bleeding injuries to his torso and arms.
A moment presents itself, as nobody was immediately next to her, and both guards seem distracted enough that they would be likely, even if they survived, to attribute their misfortune to sheer malady…
The Lady Ryoko's elbow snaps back, aimed at one of the injured thugs who was holding her's nose. While no taijutsuist, Datura was still a kunoichi, and knew how to hurt others with her limbs, and still possessed strength disproportionate to her size: that of a full-grown man. As that happens, one of her feet, jerks away, before her sandal spears itself towards the temple of the second man in a blink. Fail or succeed, the outcast Yamanaka does not strike either man a second time for fear of blowing her cover. Even should they drop her, that damnable kimono prevents her from escaping even at a pace suitable for a spoiled diva, not making more than a dozen tiny half-paces before stumbling and having to check her fall with her hands so that she wouldn't sprawl face-down into the dirt. She was going to trash this thing the first chance she got!
…If only she didn't look so damned good in it!
Having not stopped and noticing that his last two kunais didn't kill his intended targets, the raven colored hair Shinji. He had to finish this quickly, and quickly he does. Swooping in on the two kunai'd men, taking on the man on the left, Shinji delivers a powerful palm strike to the man's solo plexus, and as he begins to double over due to the wind being forced out of him. Shinji throws an uppercut to the man in attempt to knock him out. He then spins around him as the mans partner moves in to try to help his friend. Shinji parries the two of the punches he throws at him, "Your a joke." he says as he does a simple back spin kick to the side of the mans head, which hits will send him crashing into the ground hard.
A sigh escapes him, but as he regains himself he finds a bunch of spiders running around, "What the…." he trails off, but then remembering that the woman who was in the palanquin was starting to be carted off. Shinji seems to flicker out of view only to reappear near the men who were trying to cart Lady Ryoko away. Even though she wasn't putting up much of a fight, it does look like the thugs are hurt somewhat. Shinji attacks both men, finishing them off quickly. He moves over to where Lady Ryoko, "You ok?" he asks as he looks around to see if there were any other bandits around.
The bandits are rapidly being wittled down to size. Whereas Ryoko's subtle but effective pain-inflicting attacks on her would-be captors draw little attention, and Shinji is a great big target thanks to his superior fighting abilities, Kanami's snake-based attacks make it abundantly clear that there are NINJA in the midst of all this chaos.
The bandits were really not planning on facing any ninja, and even though they still outnumber the actual combatants more than 4 to 1, they are seriously rethinking the entire plan. Sure, numbers make a difference. But sometimes a lone ninja can take down an entire army — or so the rumors go, at least.
With these special ninja guards so near Lady Ryoko, and the only remaining normal guard standing triumphant over his opponent (because Kanami ripped the throat out of the second enemy), it looks like they'll have quite a fight on their hands if they try to get to her now. The organized and semi-intelligent ones have already been disposed of, so that leaves the unorganized and stupid ones.
So it is probably not much of a surprise when about nine bandits out of the remaining eighteen decide to charge in and try to overwhelm those preventing them from obtaining their prize, and the other nine turn around and run for it. The charging nine have no idea they aren't being backed up by the bandits that are now fleeing.
Can Kanami, Shinji, and Taishi (and maybe Datura if she can secretly toss out a few moves) handle nine untrained goons? Almost definitely. But it turns out that they don't have to. Right then, for some unexplicable reason, the cliff/bluff that the bandits had used as their vantage point to start this entire attack, decides to collapse. Big chunks of earth just free themselves from the mass they had previously belonged to, and rather securely so at that, and tumble down on top of the bandits. Four are buried almost immediately, while the other five halt their charge with cries of dismay and try to get out of the way.
And that's when the bandits realize that they have no one backing them up. A glance behind shows the other nine criminals have either fled out of sight, or are in the process of doing so. That cinches it. The survivors turn around and flee for their lives!
Kanami watches as the goons she had targetted are taken down. One poisoned, one bleeding to death. She feels no pity. She never has. Not since her first kill, all those years ago. It is a game to her. So when she acknowledges that Shinji and Taishi are on her side — for the moment — she then turns her attention on whomever is remaining. Seeing half flee, and the other half charge, she prepares to deal with the charging half. Her eyes, previously human and yellow, have changed to pure yellow irises, with snake-slit pupils. The added perception capabilities were probably unnecessary, but at this point there was no reason to hold back. Toying with these losers would be courting disaster. It is the careless and the arrogant whom are most often struck down.
But then there's a noise from above, and then big boulder-like masses of solid dirt come plummeting from above! Kanami of the Desert leaps back, even though it seems the big dirt globs are not going to hit her or the others. If the cliff is this unstable, there is no telling when it might break up further!
The remainder of the bandits flee, however, and so she watches them go, allowing her eyes to return to normal. She has not forgotten about that 'spider person' or whatever. But first thing is first. She turns around to face Shinji and Ryoko and Taishi. Taishi, she does not know. Shinji looks somewhat familiar… And Ryoko—Oh. It's Datura. Kanami pauses and tilts her head to the side, before bowing slightly towards 'Lady Ryoko'. Her voice, when it emerges from between her darkish lips, is much deeper and huskier than her normal voice. Kanami is extremely well-versed in acting, and that includes voice alteration.
The mysterious unknown Land of Wind native (Kanami) asks, "Are you well, miss? Any injuries?" She also glances over Shinji as well. Taishi looks to be in relatively bad shape, but she is not a doctor, so she can't do much.
Taishi wastes little time in stumble-running his way to his employer's side, one hand holding his torn side, the other gripping his blade as his woozy glare is cast to the nine charging men. With the resigned determination of a man knowing he is about to die, his blade is stead as he holds it before him and prepares to meet the charge head on.
The Lady Ryoko, her would-be captors dead or incapacitated for the moment, thus freeing her, stands meekly behind him, tossing appropriately-terrified looks around them, her hands on his back, keeping him between her and danger as a proper lady should.
"Taishi, you're hurt!"
The male's reply to the ridiculously-stated obvious is a mere grunt of acknowledgement. The sudden appearance of another male near her, apparently tearing apart a few more of the bandits, has her gasping in startlement, retreating several steps. The wounded guard isn't sure what to make of Shinji, and so throws out his arm to keep Datura behind him, even as he holds his blade between the two men in a ready manner, about as non-hostile as a sword could be wielded against another.
But there's precious little time to sort out this case of mistaken intent before the earth begins to tear itself apart in what almost seems like a coordinated effort to rid itself of the attacking barbarians. Half-squatting down, the blonde-haired young woman covers her head, squeezes her eyes shut, and cries out in fear and uncertainty, the remaining guard doing his best to maintain both his composure and his balance throughout. As suddenly as it had started, the dust settles… and the attackers are fleeing.
"Come no closer, either of y-"
"Taishi, they're here to help!"
The outcast Yamanaka steps forward, placing a pair of soft, restraining hands on the man's sword arm prompting him to lower his blade and frown at the blue-eyed diva. "Thank you. Thank you both. I can't believe we're alive! Oh… my things… my entourage… Why!?" Placing her fingertips to her lips, Datura looks about the ruined caravan in despair, at the dead and injured, a few of those who'd fled still in sight, a broken wagon, the other two missing, it's spilled contents of clothing, jewelry, and valuables across the ground. "F-Forgive me, I believe I am unharmed. Thank you. I- Thank you. Please, you must help us reach the nearest village!" It seemed she was quick to offer thanks in one breath, and ask for further aid in the next.
The near-hysterical babbling continues without much pause. "I'll see you both rewarded! A very…" Blue eyes slide from the unknown male, to the 'unknown' female. "Special reward. Oh! My guard is injured, as are others. Is there nothing you can do?"
By now Taishi was breathing hard, hovering behind Datura like a wounded, protective rottweiler, as the flightly, paniced blonde twists her hands in nervous distress, tears forming in blue eyes.
As Taishi moves in front of him to keep Datura behind him, Shinji only smirks. Seeing that the man was in no condition to fight, nor protect Datura from him. Shrugging, even as Datura tells Taishi to lower his weapon, Shinji was now watching the nine remaining bandits come charging. "Oh this is going to be fun." he laughs as he gets ready to charge towards them. But the loud sound of falling boulders stops him cold in his tracks. Watching as the boulders crush the bandits dead, Shinji shakes his head, "Oh well." yawning and now stretching out. Shinji turns to look at the woman he helped, and as he looks to her, he notices another woman who he thinks he's met before. The desert walker Kanami, he bows his head to her.
Looking at all the luggage and things that have spilled out among the caravan, and hearing Datura state that they needed help, Shinji closes his eyes. "Alright, I will help you get back to the town I was at some hours ago." he tells her. His hazel eyes do sparkle a bit at the mention of rewards. He was broke and well whatever he could get would help him. He assists with getting the wounded together and those who weren't to badly injured. He organized them with getting things on wagons that were still workable, as well as getting the horses back and harnassed to the wagons.
Kanami stays back from Taishi as he warns them not to come closer. Even after he relaxes somewhat, she does not approach. She glances around the area as the distressed blonde talks about how awful the situation is. Well, it IS pretty awful for a civilian. "…Hm." She focuses back on Lady Ryoko, and offers in the 'phone-sex' voice she has chosen to be normal for this role, "I can transport your guard to the town on the border. It is relatively nearby, and it should have doctors. I would offer to help others as well, but my speed will already be greatly reduced with a passenger. To carry more than one person would risk… Taishi-san's chances of reaching safety in time. Is this acceptable to you, Taishi-san?" She turns her attention on the wounded guard, hands folded with palms flat against each other, in front of her chest.
"I will return to aid others once you have been tended to, so you need not worry about the Lady being left unguarded. And that warrior over there seems capable enough…" She looks in Shinji's direction as he organizes everyone and helps them to get settled on the remaining wagons.
"Hnn…" The male guard shakes his head at the dark-skinned woman, scowling darkly, doing his best to look like he wasn't in pain. It was a losing battle. "My injuries aren't so severe I'd abandon my charge. It's my job to see Lady Ryoko to safety. A few bandages and I'll be fit for travel."
"Oh! Thank you, thank you." Even as Taishi is busy turning away the offer of swift travel to get his more serious wounds treated, Ryoko, oblivious, daft diva that she was, is giving Shinji her heartfelt thanks for agreeing to accompany what was left of her group. "I- Wait, you can travel with such speed? Truly? Then take me! Once in town, I can hire new guards and send others back to assist the others!"
Taishi, however, seemed intent to derail Datura's self-serving requests, shaking his hand as he half-interposes himself between the blonde and the brunette, as if afraid the latter might try to whisk the former away before anyone could react. "My Lady, traveling alone is not advisable. Especially…" He glances pointedly at Kanami, leaving the unspoken meaning of distrust for the newcomers in the air. If 'Lady Ryoko' caught his meaning, she gave no sign of it, frowning petulantly as she folds her arms in a huff. With the adrenaline of the attack wearing down, the diva was returning to being a selfish, well, diva.
"If these two meant to steal away with me, they'd have done so by now! If she can get me to safety, then I think it's your duty to allow me to go! The rest of you may follow at your own pace." Blue eyes narrow at the guard, then brighten when they cut back towards the female, as Shinji has moved to help the others. A chancing glance over her shoulder has her berating one of the few uninjured porters. "No, no, what are you doing!? You can't leave that!" She shrieks, pointing at a large chest stuffed with her belongings that was being removed from the cart to make room for the injured.
Shinji was used to helping people get pack on the rush, hearing Lady Ryoko hollar at someone for taking a chest out of a wagon. "Hush!" he tells her. "Your belongings will not be left." he says to her. Having already spotted a wagon that had little in it. He orders a few of the porters to start putting the belongings of the diva in that cart. "Hurry up people." he says as he helps an older lady into one of the carts that are full of wounded. Shinji makes his way back over to Lady Ryoko and Kanami, he looks to the two for a moment, then to Taichi, "You really need to some medical attention." he says to the man, "And please don't put up that, "I don't need help." Shit with me." Shinji tells him. He points to the wagon with the wounded, "I think there is a guy over there doing first aid, go to him." he tells the man. Shinji looks at the rest of the caravan, "Anyways, looks like your people are moving as best they can. We should be able ot leave in soon." he says.
Kanami pauses when Taishi declines to accept the transportation offer. Lady Ryoko asks to be transported, however, and that doesn't sit well with the guard either. "…Please forgive my insolence, Taishi-san, but if you do not trust me to keep the Lady safe, and yet you are not presently healthy enough to guard her physically as well as your spirit wishes to, what would you have done? Help must be brought to these others, at the very least, even if what you say is true, and you can continue to guard one woman from harm. Does your duty extend only to the Lady, and not to the innocents who suffer on your watch?"
Then she bows and says, "My apologies again. The lives of those in need weigh heavily upon me and make me speak hastily. If you have a plan, Taishi-san, please reveal it to us. Otherwise, I will go acquire help from the nearest town, and we shall meet each other half way?"
There's a startled, blue-eyed blink. "Did… Did he just…?" Datura, mouth slightly agape, stares at Shinji in shocked outrage at being told to be silent. She crosses her arms before her irately, but doesn't immediately come with any snappy retorts, not when she didn't have more guards who were actually in her employ, and a small army of assistants, to enforce her will. She settles for muttering petulantly under her breath, "Nngh, I hate it here in the country."
Taishi, meanwhile, is having trouble facing the logic Kanami is presenting him with, despite his ultimate mistrust of the two's timely arrival. But finally, he shakes his head at the question of whom his duty lay with. "No, madame, I am only in the Lady's employ. What happens to everyone else is a distant second concern." With Shinji's insistence that he move to the wagon to be treated, and Kanami pointing out the severity of the situation, the surviving guard captain bows his head and purses his lips. This whole contract had gone wrong from the start! The worst that could happen is that he never saw a spoiled brat again and didn't collect the last half of his pay…
"Wait, wait! You're taking me with you, right? You can't just leave me here while you go!" Datura-as-Ryoko sputters a protest as she takes several small, quick steps forward, clutching insistently at the older woman's sleeve. "What if those men come back while you are gone? No, you're taking me with you." She turns, placing a hand on her employee's shoulder. "Taishi, get on the wagon. I'm not asking you. This man will make sure you all reach the village." She gestures towards Shinji. "And I'll have help and word sent of where I'll be staying to await your arrival, where he'll be paid upon the safe delivery of the group."
"This woman," The blonde tugs on Kanami's sleeve again. "Will stay with me until you arrive. It is only to be a matter of hours, yes? It is settled, then. I shall have protection and company for the afternoon until you catch up. And do find Tashigaki if he's still alive. He's… out of shape, so he couldn't have gone far." Blue eyes turn back towards the dark-skinned woman. "We can go now, yes? I do not wish to linger."
Crouched atop the bluff, a man in brown robes, looking essentially identical to the entity that had turned out to be a bunch of spiders previously, watches the goings-on below. The difference between he and the other being is that this one is not made of spiders. He is human — mostly. But there are still spiders in his presence. They are crawling on his body, and so forth, though most are hidden away under his cloak, or somewhere else.
"That one?" he asks quietly, seemingly of no one. There is a chittering noise of mandibles working. The man turns his attention to the second woman, the blonde one. "That one?" he asks again. This time a chorus of hissing noises rises from all over his body. He nods. "She will be ours then. The Spider Queen awaits."
When Ryoko moves closer to Kanami, he watches as they prepare to depart, and Shinji guides the Taishi to someone providing medical care. "She will be ours…" he repeats. His multiple, glistening red eyes in an otherwise human-looking face reflect the image of Datura. "…So says Okumo Ra, the First of the Okumo." He rises and prepares to pursue the two women once they depart.
Kanami nods and smiles, bowing to Taishi. "I swear that she shall arrive safely, and your trust shall not be given in vain. Conserve your strength please, Taishi-san. It will be easier to fulfill your duty if you are on the road to recovery, as opposed to bleeding from the wounds inflicted by those cowardly miscreants. You have earned your pay by shedding your life's fluid for the Lady. I am sure that will not soon be forgotten."
She then puts her hands together in a number of seals, and says, "Slithering Snake Mode!" Her legs seem to merge and fuse together, and lengthen simultaneously. They become extremely flexible as well, and it soon becomes clear that her lower body has just transformed into a giant snake's tail. "Please climb onto my back, Lady. It will be easier to move than if I carried you in my arms." Also her upper body strenght is nil, so it would probably not work at all. Once Datura is about, Kanami begins to slither across the ground. Slowly, at first, but then she suddenly speeds up greatly, until she is essentially a streak of white fabric, and whatever color Ryoko's clothing is. Soon, they are out of sight entirely.