Empty Caravans


Kaoru, Soen

Date: November 21, 2012


A strange woman makes a request to Kirigakure to provide a guard for her on a cold and rainy night. While the mission was a success more than a few questions were left unanswered.

"Empty Caravans"

A few miles outside of Kirigakure

It is dusk in Kirigakure and the sun is just now inching its way down the horizon casting the land in an eerie glow. Rain pours down drenching just about anything in its path, including a young woman standing at the gate. She does not seem to mind the downpour and stands tall and formal with a black umbrella while she waits. In her free hand she carries a blank scroll of parchment and a pen. She watches the path towards the village quietly waiting on the person who was assigned to escort her while she does her business. She did not need much protection, so she simply requested whoever the village could spare, as she just had to check up on some unfinished business. She looks up at the sky looking at the position of the sun to see how long she had been waiting. She figured from the looks of it its only been half an hour they should be here just about anytime.

Ignoring the rain was part of life for Manamune Kaoru, and today was no exception. With her hood pulled as far forwards as possible and her katana tucked neatly inside her cloak to protect against the wet, the Genin stalks quickly and efficiently towards the meeting place. As she draws near she stops for a minute to check the situation. She never entered a meeting without first being sure that the area was secure. After assessing the area she moves on, approaching Soen silently without making eye contact.

Soen watches as Kaoru approaches her looking her over with a raised brow before handing a piece of parchment over to her. The parchment simply explained that Kaoru was to walk by her side while she conducted her business and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. There shouldn't be any combat involved, but the two of them should be on their guard anyways just in case. It also made mention of Soen's muteness, so that the shinobi assigned to her should not be offended if she does not speak to them. If she did need to communicate with her, she will do so with the scroll brought with her. At the very end of the parchment all that is stated is to ask any questions that may be had now, to get them out of the way early.

Kaoru nods silently to Soen, and double checks the nearby rooftops for any sign of activity. Although the scroll said that there wasn't much chance of action, if the girl had hired protection then there must be a threat of some kind. Then the Genin turns back to the girl and says, "If you need my attention touch my shoulder or clap once. It would be easier if you could explain what you want protection from, but if not then I'll serve as best I can." With that she goes back to scanning for threats.

Soen simply nods in response before walking down the path leading away from Kirigakure starting their short journey. It was best that they left quickly, Soen wanted to get her task accomplished before dark. As she walks she balances the umbrella on her shoulder and writes on the scroll planning on answering the girl's question as best she could. Kaoru didn't really need to know too much about this mission, but it was fair that she have some idea of what she could be getting into. Passing the scroll off to her it reads that due to recent circumstances there could be people looking for her. They were taken care of for the most part, but there could still be some stragglers. It is better to be safe than sorry. That is why she needed to make sure what business she had was wrapped up entirely. With that Soen simply holds her hand out waiting on Kaoru to return the scroll when she was finished reading it.

Kaoru reads over the scroll quickly then nods and returns it silently. It seems that the young Genin prefers silence when words are unnecessary. As they start walking, Kaoru seems to stop checking for threats. A crease of concentration forms on her forehead, easily visible above the cloth mask on her face. In the idle thoughts at the back of her mind, Kaoru decides that she quite likes Soen - she's professional and never wastes words.

Soen keeps her eyes ahead on the road seemingly ignoring Kaoru for the most part while keeping an eye out for any unwanted visitors as well. Sometimes simply having someone along as muscle was enough to discourage any unforeseen circumstances. It would be half an hour before the two reached a couple of abandoned caravans. Things like popcorn and fliers were littered everywhere and it seems that the occupants of the caravan left in a hurry. The fliers read about a traveling freak show called "A Glimpse At the Misfits of the Lands" and listed various acts that once performed there. A few of the acts were 'The Fattest Lady of the Lands' and 'The Siamese Twins of Yukigakure'. One act that could stand out to Kaoru if she were to take a closer look would be an act involving a girl that never spoke. Banners on the caravans with the same title confirmed the identity of the caravan. Soen visibly frowns for a moment before moving ahead of Kaoru to explore the site on her own. She had to make sure that it was truly disbanded, once and for all.

Kaoru takes a quick look around the caravans, poking her head here and there as she checks for threats and survivors. When her initial sweep is finished the girl takes a more general look at the caravans and notes the sign listing the acts. "So this was your caravan, huh?" she asks rhetorically before jumping up atop one of the wagons to take up a lookout position. She didn't ask any further questions, after all she's just here as protection. Standing perfectly still, Kaoru closes her eyes and extends a sixth sense into the surrounding area, checking for the presence of any enemies. The rain continues to come down, slightly obscuring vision all the way around the caravan.

At Kaoru's question Soen simply shakes her head in response continuing her search for survivors. Soen wouldn't say that it was hers, but she was more than familiar with it. She opens the back of the caravan exposing what appear to be living quarters, if you could call them that. A dish of rotten food laid in the corner along with a stagnant bowl of water and a makeshift blanket for a bed. Soen's eyes rest on something in the caravan in particular. A tiny boy sat huddled in the corner sobbing quietly. Soen blinked for a moment before tapping the bottom of the caravan trying to get the boy's attention. He bolts upright at the sound and cowers from Soen. "P..please don't hurt me too…I-I never hurt you…" Soen simply shakes her head and motions out of the caravan urging him to come out. The small child was obviously not one of Soen's concerns, but he still had to be dealt with. Just in a different way than what she had expected. She claps for Kaoru's attention and begins writing on her scroll. Once Kaoru responds she hands off the scroll which read that they were going to get the boy to shelter in Kirigakure once their search was over and not to hurt him unless necessary. The boy stays huddled in the corner still obviously confused by Soen's lack of communication with him.

Hearing the single clap from within the caravan and feeling the presence of the small boy at the same time, Kaoru quickly wonders if Soen has somehow gotten herself into trouble. She bounces off the top of the caravan and races to Soen's location, where she realizes that there's no immediate danger. She's then passed the scroll from Soen, and Kaoru nods to the girl. "Ok," she says quietly, "That won't be a problem." Kaoru then turns to the boy and tells him, "Kid get up. We're going to take you back to Kirigakure. Uninjured if possible, but if you give me trouble I'll give you a knock over the head and carry you there." She seems to think that this should be comforting to the boy. She motions for the boy to follow her out of the caravan, and she steps out herself, returning to guard duty.

The boy blinks at Kaoru's bluntness but nods eagerly when she mentions taking him over to Kirigakure. He rushes out of the caravan, past Soen, and wraps his tiny arms around Kaoru seeking comfort. On closer inspection he couldn't be older than six or seven. "Th..thank you! T..they kidnapped me f..from the village..a..and said I had to work for them…t..then that…that girl…" He motions over at Soen and shudders slightly. "I..I don't know what happened e..everything was so quiet…but when I woke up…everyone was gone…" He sobs onto Kaoru briefly wiping his face with a shirt sleeve that was much too big for him. "I didn't know what else to do…I..I've been here for weeks…D..do you have any food?" Soen flinches slightly as the boy seems to carry on and on. She never liked listening to people talk, and decided now would be a good time to continue her search in an attempt to wrap the mission up. With that she leaves Kaoru with the boy and moves over to the second caravan which seemed to hold wares instead of people. Being thorough she pries open every box and looks through its contents investigating for any other hidden surprises.

Not having much of a sympathetic ear, Kaoru seems to ignore the boy for a while, scanning the area with her chakra sense. Finally when the boy stops yammering for a moment to ask for food, Kaoru takes out a trail ration from her hip pouch and hands it to the boy, then asks, "What were you saying about that girl? Her name is Soen, by the way." Even though she's speaking to the boy, her eyes don't move from the surrounding area. Maybe its the rain and the breeze, but something's putting her on edge. "Soen, how much longer do you need here?" she asks loudly, once again without moving.

The boy eagerly wolfs down the rations as soon as possible looking up at Kaoru as he finished chewing his food. He looks over in the direction Soen went making sure she wasn't within earshot before returning his attention back to Kaoru. "T..they never gave her a name that I heard so I d-didn't know…She was one of the acts too…One of the more popular ones f-from what I seen..P..people paid to try and get her to talk…Whoever succeeded got all the show's profits for the day…N-no one ever did it though" He looks back at the caravan Soen was searching and shivers. "I..I thought she was a goner…she stopped eatin' and drinkin' for a really long time…T..they stopped here to dig a grave for her for when she..passed on. Then everyone w..was just gone. N-no screamin' or nothin'…P-please don't let her hurt me.." After several minutes Soen steps out of the caravan looking over at Kaoru and the boy giving a faint motion of her hand to signal they were ready to leave. The boy clung closer to Kaoru "P-promise please?"

Kaoru finally spares the boy a glance and raises an eyebrow. "I doubt she's going to hurt you now. After all, she's the one who gave me the order that you should be brought to Kirigakure unharmed if possible," the girl says quietly enough that she believes Soen can't hear her, "If she wanted to hurt you, she could have done it when she first found you. I couldn't have stopped her, and wouldn't have anyway. I'm just here to guard her." Kaoru then looks back over her shoulder towards the caravan, idly wondering exactly what was going on with the strange, mute girl she'd been assigned to protect. She brushes the thought away and continues to stand like a statue on guard duty.

The boy stares up at Kaoru with big sad eyes before looking back over to Soen. He bites his nails nervously "I…I guess that is true…Um…I think she's ready to go..It's hard telling…" Soen walks closer to the two tilting her head slightly. She wasn't quite sure what the two were talking about, and frankly she didn't really want to know. With that she gives a faint nod to Kaoru before handing the scroll off to her that explained everything was all clear and that they could return to the village for now. The payment for her services and the boy's home could be sorted out once they arrived. She glances down at the boy briefly in contemplation before turning and walking down the path back towards Kirigakure. The boy could prove to be trouble later on, but not enough to lead to any immediate action. For now he had suffered enough and could use some peace of mind.

Kaoru hands the scroll back to Soen and immediately starts heading back towards Kirigakure, checking occasionally to make sure that the boy is in tow. "He might be a little old," Kaoru says after a few minutes of travel, "But its possible that the Kirigakure Ninja Academy will accept the boy. If so, they'll likely pay for his tuition and board until he graduates. That is, if you don't have somewhere else you'd like him to stay." She glances over to the silent girl to gauge her reaction, and can't help wondering just what part she has to play in this particular mission. There were lots of loose ends, and Kaoru was more than a little frustrated by the fact that it wasn't her job to sort them out. She doesn't let any hint of the frustration reach her face however. Instead, she's a facade of coolness and concentration, still keeping vigilant against incoming threats.

The boy keeps in toe with Kaoru seemingly quite attached to her, and shakes his head nervously at that suggestion. "I..I don't wanna be a shinobi…m…my father was just a merchant…a…and mother too…T..they should be there…M-maybe just take me to one of the Mizukage's assistants?…Th-they can probably find my house." Soen looks over her shoulder at Kaoru then down at the boy shrugging faintly in response. She didn't care much for where the boy went and it seemed he already had a family to go back to in the village. She had accomplished her purpose and was quite certain that no one from that caravan would be bothering her or anyone else ever again. It may have been a bit late, but at least the deed was done. Her hand briefly rests at the mask at her side and she pauses for a moment staring off into space. The boy blinks up confused at her and frowns "A..are you alright miss?" Soen shakes her head as she comes to her senses and continues on down the path not seeming to notice or care about what happened then.

Kaoru seemingly ignores the boy's pattering of statements and suggestions, more focused on her client than the tag-along boy. "Whatever," is all she says to him, shrugging uncaringly as she stays close to Soen on the journey. When Soen stops, Kaoru frowns a little, wondering whether the girl has picked up something that she hasn't, and immediately re-checks the area to see if they're under attack. An instant later it becomes apparent that the only threat was in Soen's mind, and Kaoru shakes her head a little. This girl gives her the jitters.

After a while of walking they manage to return to the village, Soen stops just outside of the entrance apparently not wanting to enter just yet. Perhaps it is simply because she is a wanderer, or perhaps there are other reasons why. It was hard telling with her sometimes. She glances over at Kaoru and reaches into a pouch she was carrying to pull out a sack full of ryo. She hands it to Kaoru not seeming to want to even bother counting it, on closer inspection Kaoru would find more than enough to cover the costs of such an easy mission. Writing on her scroll she hands it over to Kaoru one last time, it reads to take the boy to the Mizukage's office and they can find where he lived to return him to his house. It also briefly thanked her for guarding her, and to find her if she needed assistance in the future. She was never around one place for long, but the gesture itself should be enough to be polite. With the mission over she simply walks away from the village to leave Kaoru to deal with the boy. Seems the mission was a success, at least to Soen.

Kaoru looks between Soen and the boy a couple of times, then raises an eyebrow quizzically. "Thank you," she says, accepting the bag of coins and nodding. Then she turns and looks at the boy again. "Alright kid, I'll take you to the Mizukage's Office," she says. Its funny really. Kaoru is barely older than the boy, certainly still a child herself, and yet she constantly refers to him as kid. "Come on then," she adds as she turns and starts stalking off down the street with the boy close behind.

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