First World Ninja Competition - Banquet Of Champions


Datura (as Lady Ryoko), Sousa, Imota, Amuro (as Hei-Long), Mune, Kairiki, Shinji, Kazuki (as Hanzen), Abiku, Taji, Setsiro, Akane, Takeshi, Fuyu

Date: October 30, 2010


A banquet is held to honor the participants of the First World Ninja Competition, in Kusagakure.

"First World Ninja Competition - Banquet Of Champions"

Wealthy Lord's Manor - Kusagakure

The setting for the banquet was a large mansion appropriated from a wealthy landowner for the evening. Naturally the lord of the manor was 'honored and delighted' to loan his house out for the personal use of Kusagakure's own fuedal lord and ruler and his grand banquet celebrating the honor of the shinobi across the world who were participating in the tournament.
The dining hall was lavish by design, but was done up to the point of preposterous pretentiousness for this event. Elegance and extravagance practically dripped from every crevice and corner of the room, flower-holders filled to bursting with bright bouquets lining every wall, filling the room with a sweet smell. The scent of buds tangled with the aromas provided by the various foods for the use of the present population's olefactory devices. Bright and festive colors decorated the tables, the columns which supported the roof, and the draperies that hung over the two-story windows of the vault-ceilinged room.
Long tables formed an elaborate maze when trying to traverse from one side of the cavernous dwelling to the other. Placed here and there so as to make the most of the floor space while still having adequate seating, beneath the expensive table clothes was gilded wood, heavy and ornate. Silver and gold-plated candle-holders were used as center-pieces, brass-covered platters sitting still, teasingly keeping the sight of aromatic meats, steamed breads, and ripe fruits from prying eyes. Pots, containing dozens of soups and ramens of varying flavors, sat at a long serving table being tended to by various uniformed chefs, ranging from young to old. At one end of the rectangular man-made cavern lies a large stage, low to the ground, but expansive in girth, behind which reclined several layers of curtains and around which was placed paper lanterns perched on wrought-iron rods. Several other peripheral stages, where various forms of entertainment are likely to begin performing, are set up strategicly on the edges of the room so as to be prominent without being obtrusive.
The staff were all immaculately dressed in matching uniforms, in dark colors of red for the servers and green for the chefs. Some were smiling and friendly to the assembled guests, which numbered some two hundred so far, and may even grow to twice that number by the end of the night, othere were somber and stone-faced. All were professional and courteous, hand-picked for this occasion weeks in advance.
The host himself had yet to make an appearance, though many lords and ladies from various lands were in attendance. It was a veritable who's who of shinobi nation nobility and wealth, each forbidden to bring guards to this event in the general nature of peacekeeping. As far as the eye could see were kimonos that cost more than the average farmer's yearly wages, as well as gowns, suits, and other formal garments. Though most chose to attend with only their best clothes, a few holdouts of contemporary fashion existed, mostly among those ninjas in appearance, some of whom forwent the grand dress-up showmanship and chose to wear more practical clothing. It was the shinobi that received the most subtle attention from those in the room, sizing up the semi-secretive operatives who made up the recently-formed 'hidden villages'.
Before this night was over, many a backroom deal and secret alliance would likely be forged, as was standard fare for these sorts of events filled to the brim with scheming nobles.

Kokoroe Sousa, the Kazekage of Sunagakure, is among those who are dressed differently than the upper-crust party-goers. Apart from the ceremonial headgear which identifies him as the Kazekage, his outfit is much the same as usual--a baggy gi with a homespun robe on top. A lot of the nobles regard this as a whimsically eccentric or rustic trait…which is the sort of thing Sousa wants them to think about him. He aims to be seen as somebody wise, yet simple and without worldly ambition, a sort of grandfather figure. The nobles are easier to steer if they think they're the ones influencing him. Sousa floats about the room, greeting people, amusing them with fluffy proverbs, and planting ideas in their heads.

The lavishness of such a place, went way above Imota's head. He hadn't seen something like a mansion so up close before. Why was such a size needed for a home? He hardly saw anyone that made residence here, except for the so called lord. Had the place been home to all the servants who had seemed to work in this place? Such questions had only gave way to more, as he would make his way through out. They seemed to pop up one by one, by one, in his head. He would make his way through, the kid genin amongst many who had been the elite of the ninja world.
Something was just plain awkward at seeing Imota, who was dressed in his normal everyday wear, walking through the halls, and with his short height, ducking inbetween many of the taller men. Men were also present whose stature, often had been more represented by there wealth, or reputation. Lords and ladies, would seem abundant and lively, laughing, some talking of the matches they witness, and others, simply being in the place that was to be. Imota, would see the Kage of his own village in this place. It would phase him little, not because of disrespect or anything negative.
Enthusiam was just not his way.

There are many types of people here for the banquet. Many, many, many types of people. Not just in terms of nobility, lords and ladies, rulers, ninja, and so on, but also in terms of reasons for being here, and of course appearances. One of those likely to stand out the most when he makes his appearance is presently in a 'dressing room'. This one had been 'borrowed' from those assigned to the retinue of a certain popular entertainer when it was determined she would need such quarters for this evening. Many other such rooms have been hijacked for the purposes of preparation already, but they are also full of noise, full of people changing and preparing to do their jobs as performers, and so on. This room has only one man in it.
A very tall man -- approximately 8 feet, infact -- with a long mane of spikey black hair on his head, down to between his broad shoulders. He is wearing a maroon kimono with a dark-blue collar. Apparently he is having some difficulty tying a knot in his obi. His hands are huge, and apparently none too agile… Or is he just nervous? "I feel stupid," he grumbles out in an incredibly deep voice. And then a female voice that should not be in that empty room says, "You look fine." He continues fussing with the obi, and then says, "It looks wrong in the mirror." Then he turns his head to look towards the mirror. The reflection of a woman standing next to him can be seen there, even though she has no physical presence in the room itself. "You look very handsome, Na--" "Don't call me that," he interrupts in his dull, deep voice. "--alright. You look very handsome, husband." He grunts.
"A more pressing concern than your appearance is whether this trinket of yours will really work or not…" The reflection of the woman in the mirror touches and lifts a blue-white crystal that has been made part of a necklace of sorts. It hangs around the man's thick neck. Though only the reflection of the crystal is lifted, the man reaches for the physical one as though he could stop her. Surprisingly, the woman's reflection >does< move away, dropping the reflection of the necklace. "It will work." "How do you know?" "It worked for >Him<." "Aa, soo desu." The man finally turns away and heads towards the door, clearly able to hear all the ruckus out in the banquet hall. He knows the party has been underway for awhile now. And yet the wife that does not exist calls him back. "Wait, Nag--husband. You forgot something."
The man turns around slowly, his smooth, strong features, say he is young. But his size and demeanor say otherwise. What is more striking is the fact he has no eyes. Instead of eyes, he just has empty blackness beyond his eyelids. "What is it?" he inquires with a bit of annoyance. His wife just holds up a pair of eyeglasses with darkened lenses that will adhere to his face, concealing the absence of optical organs. He sighs and takes the glasses. When he turns away and returns to the door, one more glance over his shoulder reveals that the room is empty. The woman who was NOT in the mirro, and who handed him the eyeglasses, is gone. Maybe she was never there at all. Amuro has stopped questioning.
He slides the glasses into place over the hollows in his face, and then opens the door to join the party. He should probably be noticeable immediately, but there are many others to meet and greet. He might not be seen quite yet. Though the fact he is at least two heads taller than almost everyone in the hall might help with that.

Wandering around the various tables filled with food is a man whos outfit looks like it came from the Southern Lands. The various charms and bangles hanging from his outfit clink lightly as he browses. The amount of "fancy" in the room, and the opulence are slightly off-putting to him as he has lived most of his life in the most spartan of environments. He cherry picks a few items from a plate and eats them quickly, smiling at himself for enjoying the kind of lifestyle he was never accustomed to. "So thats what good food tastes like," Kairiki thinks to himself.

Shinji is dressed dark blue and silver top and bottom, it's made of cotton, but the appearance of the clothing looks a little like silk. A silver sash is tied about his waists and hangs down his left side. The gi shirt he wears as silver cross buttons going down the center of his chest. About his arms the sleeves look big but down towards his hands, the sleeves are rolled back. His pants are a little baggy, and uppon his feet are what looks like black canvas shoes. He is light skinned, raven black colored hair and green eyes. As he enters into the main area, the man takes a moment to look and gauge everyone who were now starting to enter, he gives a few polite bows to ladies who come near him. A smile present on his face as he watcehs people as they continue to enter.

And so does enter the young Inuzuka Abiku and his companion nin-dog Tohime. They stride a few feet into the hall before stopping dead in their tracks, casting a bewildered gaze across this grand and ridiculous setting. The scents alone were enough to overwhelm the pair as they sniff at the air taking in the smell of the various flowers, foods and people present. After a moment of checking things out their own way they proceed inward, their clothes that of a functional shinobi and likely looked down upon by the nobles and their astonishingly overpriced attire. It seems the pair have a mission however, as they make a b-line for one of the tables hosting a particularly tasty set of entrees and appetizers.

Taji lacked the fancy formal wear of many of the nobles and lords. Still he managed to find something that was better than his normal dress. He's put together a very formal looking kamishimo, done in the colors that speak of the land of fire and the village hidden in the leaves. Reds and greens mix together. No weapon is worn by Taji as he enters and looks for an appropriate place to settle down. He's even walking a bit more formally, although a tad stilted wise as well. He seems uneasy, but manages to find the location indicated on his invitation and settles down properly.
While Taji has avoided openly displayed weapons, he has worn his normal forehead protector as a belt, and a small scroll case is attached at the small of his back, sealed at the moment. Once he is settled down at his spot Taji takes some time to examine the crowds, studying the various ninja from other villages as well as the lords and nobles from various lands who have shown up tonight.

Setsiro strides through the doors, legs loose in her smooth gait, muscles stretched from the long run that'd been required to make it here on time. Luckily, she moved with an unrepentent swiftness marked enough to avoid being late. Immediately after passing through the doors, she stepped to the side, waiting for another to come behind her.

Akane figured this would be a hilly formal and pretentious gathering, if lords and noblemen would be attending. Somewhere along the lines Akane found the time to change into a more elegant attire. A decorative jacket with several cloud designs and more stylish footwear was worn by Akane. Arriving with Setsiro, Akane is interested to see what kind of furnishings this banquet had in store. He came in after Setsiro smile at her as she let him in "Looks like we made it." He said with a dumbfounded gawk he would then be stricken with immeasurable amounts of bewilderment. "How stunning…."

Formal dress, it was something that Takeshi hadn't worn in years, but he had it, despite the fact that he was a shinobi. Having been the kind of person who always loved the contemporaries and other lost acts that seemed to have disappeared to the new generation, he had long held onto clothes that were meant for such occasions and so had the rest of his family. He was not one to go anywhere public and social in nation like this without his family in tow and tonight is no different.
Takeshi entered at the front, as head of the family, in a long, flowing black robe easily recognized as a symbol of the sensei of a school of martial arts. While not as contemporary as the other lords and ladies in presence, the outfit was none the less an older version of an exquisite business robe, used in days when business attire was subtle rather than flashy. The sides were stitched together by finely made strands of rope tired into knots and at the center of the front was a symbol made in intricate white stiching, a symbol of a reed, flowing in the wind and the four elements of nature (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind) around it in a square fashion.
Aoi entered next, as the second oldest, wearing a flowing floral print kimono with an old fashioned fan in her hand. The kind that were specially made to match specific kimonos and act more as show rather than as an actual fan.
Third was Sumiya, who was dressed in a more contemporary dress like the other lords and ladies and baubled up with a few assorted pieces of jewelry, the most expensive of which are definately the pearl ear rings hanging off her ears.
Akiko was next, wearing a utility robe with more intricate inlay stitching than usual. She felt out of place wearing anything else than a utility robe or her uniform, it just wasn't in her idea of fun to wear flashy clothes, kimonos or even dresses.
Yuuji on the other hand, he was dressed in a suit. A rather expensive looking suit made of a white material with ash colored inlay stitching that formed intricate patterns across it. He was not impressed with the suit however, clearly tugging it at every waking minute.
The five walked in together and while Takeshi, Aoi and Sumiya didn't bat an extra eyelash at all the extravagance, Yuuji and Akiko were more easily impressed and they soon wandered off to look at everything. It wasn't that they had never seen anything like it, but never this much of it in one place apparently. Sumiya quietly tottered off towards the two to keep them out of trouble, which left Aoi and Takeshi to wander around and politely talk about absolutely nothing and pretend they gave the utmost care about it until they were offered a chance to sit down.

Fuyu is not sure how she got tricked into this. She thinks maybe she got drunk and Genjutsu'd herself in the mirror. But what she IS sure of is that she does not like wearing kimono. And yet here she is, wearing a white kimono with jagged red triangles along the edges of the sleeves, cuffs, hem, neck, etc. and the Uchiha Clan crest on the right breast and the back of the garment. Fuyu thinks it is hideous and possibly the most ridiculous thing she has ever worn.
Thus, she is in a foul mood as she walks around being accosted by various people for various reasons. Being asked about her opinion on the Land of Iron agreement. Being asked her thoughts on the pirates plagueing the Land of Lightning's northern coasts. Being asked when the Uchiha plan to repay the Land of SomeplaceFuyucouldnotcarelessaboutrememberingthenameof for 'her Clan's' actions during the Clan Wars. The glare she gave that last politician will probably be remembered to the end of his days. Now people have gotten the clue and decided to leave her alone.
This is good. If anyone had tried to compliment her kimono there would probably be blood to clean up. She watches Taji for now, from next to a pillar that holds up the ceiling. The festive decorations make her mood worse. "Why am I even here?" she wonders outloud.

Throughout the room the dull roar of general conversation slowly begins to die out as uniformed guards begin to stroll into the room. Unlike the average guard, these wore immaculate kimonos and carried two swords at their sides. They bore themselves with grace and dignity, a severity hanging about them and a care to every movement that marked them as veteran swordsmen. They were the Daimyo's personal samurai.
As all eyes turned towards one of the entrances that opened into the dining hall, six of the elite guardians strode in, three lining up on either side of the entrance. At the first sight of the Lord of the Land of Grass himself, every head in the room bows, each to varying degrees based upon their station, the highest of the highborn bending low at the waist, the servants kowtowing upon the ground, their serving trays hastily set down wherever they happened to be.
Takahiro Shuichi, Daimyo of the Land of Grass, does not return the bow, as was his privelege as the country's ruler. He instead proceeds to inform the room that they're free to carry on with their revelry with an absent wave of his hand. A tall man by most standards, reaching several inches over six feet in height, the highborn nobleman cut a lean and atheletic figure, with a pair of ornate swords at his side. Prevalent rumor said that he fancied himself a swordsman, practicing several times a week with his samurai captains, though many privately doubted the pampered man's actual worth in a real fight. Approaching his forties, and sporting a clean-shaven face and top-knot that was just beginning to show a bit of gray in it's midnight color, having held his title for only two years so far after the death of his father, Shuichi had proven himself an able, if not quite shrewd ruler and politician.
Attached to his arm was a demure woman, pale-skinned and sharing a fond smile with the country's unquestioned ruler. Her hair was jet black, falling to below her shoulders without adornments to keep the strands up and out of the way. Her violet eyes sparkled as she laughed at some private joke they had been sharing, a black, lacy fan covering her bright smile, prior to their entering the room. Her dress was an off-the-shoulder affair, more the complete absence of color than the color black, parts of it around her wrists and the hem fading into sheer lace in the design of spider-webbing. It was a marked contrast to the Daimyo's own traditional, mostly-unadorned kimono of light brown, bearing only the embroidered insignia of his house.
The room slowly begins to return to it's previous level of conversational activity as men and women turn back to their companions and servants pick up trays and glasses from where they had been hastily set in order to get back to work. The samurai guards, a dozen in all, escort the Daimyo and his Precious Consort towards the longest of the dining tables, one actually made up of three tables set end-on-end, a table which had reserved seating for only the most important of the guests, despite the abundance of room available.
Whispered conversations begin to break out, almost all of them speaking about either the Grass Land's ruler or his new favored woman, known to most as the song-and-dance diva risen to Precious Consort, 'Lady Ryoko'. Other conversations abound, however, some about the Kazekage, and one or two about the identity of the almost ridiculously-tall male so recently entered the gathering, the one who stood out like a lampost landmark head and shoulders above the press of people.

Many may murmur, or speak at conversational volume, or exclaim, about Amuro, his height, his identity, his purpose here, and all the rest. Upper-crust society will take any excuse they can get to chatter like chipmunks at each other about the most trivial things imaginable. Is a giant in their midst trivial? Maybe not in an >immediate< sense, but in the grand scheme of things, his height is highly irrelevant. It is just the most obvious thing to comment on.
Still, despite Amuro's distaste for the intellectual caliber of most here, he does his best to remain polite. He offers low chuckles that might actually be angry growls or perhaps just neutral noises. It is very hard to tell. But the point remains that he is speaking to anyone who addresses him, even if the addressing is just "WHOAH!" or "*GASP*" when they realize how big he is. All he does is nod his head and says, "Yes. Nice to meet you. Have a good evening. Yes. Yes. No, thank you." Simple answers to any questions or comments or introductions offered. He is gradually making his way towards the high table, where the Daimyou sits.
Perhaps most here will not know him, perhaps even the Lady Ryoko will not recognize him per se, but he IS a special guest. The fact that anyone who tries to stop him from approaching and seating himself near -- but not next to -- the Daimyou would be shown his golden-seal invitation, stamped personally by the lord himself, should be evidence enough. But those samurai look awful arrogant. Awfully suspicious of anyone who might one-up then in importance. Will they make an issue of it anyway? Maybe. Maybe not. But this is a very important evening for the Lady Ryoko, and he will not have it ruined by needless quarelling. If it comes down to a disagreement, he would rather retreat. There is a time and place for everything, after all.

As the room quieted and the Daimyo and his consort make their entrance, Shinji takes out a pair of glasses from an outside pocket and places them on his face. He moves among the throng of people who were watching as the Daimyo made his entrance. Standing among a group of ladies near him Shinji watches as well, the Lady Ryoko was looking very lovely. Hearing a few comments about her or the Daimyou after they begin making their way towards their table. Shinji would continue meandering through the crowds, when stopped by a few people, he merely smiles and nods, one woman actually ask the speak with him and he walks off to a corner and speaks with her for a moment, then makes his way to be seen only briefly by Amuro. So far Shinji is actually enjoying himself, he takes a drink from one of the wait staff who is carrying a tray of wine.

Sousa finds himself with a bit of a dilemma. The last time he encountered someone as tall as that fellow over there, he was given an ultimatim backed up with some rather strong evidence of the ability to make life inconvenient for him. Of course, it's not a given that that one and this person are one and the same, but considering the overlap of people with that build, reasons to hide their face (at least partly), and a large enough interest in this tournament to get into this banquet, the possibility is statistically significant. On the other hand, as the organizer of the tournament, it's expected of Sousa to be chummy with the host, who just arrived. Sousa would prefer to have as little attention on him as possible when he encounters the giant, and walking over to greet him instead of the Daimyou would be certain to draw stares. So for the time being, Sousa makes his way over to the Daimyou.
"Ah, Takahiro-dono," Sousa begins in his sing-songy, I'm-a-wise-monk-from-a-foreign-land accent, "how are you enjoying the tournament thus far? Some very exciting matches, yes? I look forward to seeing you down in the arena sometime. It must have been wearying for a virtuous swordsman such as yourself, being unable to test your true mettle without an opponent deserving of death. And Lady Ryoko, I do hope the fierceness of the fighting has not been unsettling for you. I assure you, I have tested the arenas many times and in many ways, even with my own body. No one will be injured, no matter how wrapped up the fighters may become in the joy of the contest." Sousa notes the tall man's approach out of the corner of his eye. Well, this may turn out easier than expected.

Taji is quite visable, he's not hiding, although it might be hard to recognize him in the current outfit. He's got no clan behind his name, no symbol other than that of the Konohagakure on his outfit, that and the general theme of the land of fire. So while Taji gets a few curious glances by people who might wonder who this clanless ninja is, that's about it. He keeps his spot, and waits, sitting like a statue for the most part, as he awaits a more formal start to the festivities, if there will be one that is. While Taji hardly moves, his eyes do, and he takes in the groupings the gatherings and so on.
Taji seems more to be listening and watching for… something. It is unclear what though, maybe he's just taking everything in. At least his outfit is a bit different than the kimonos so many people seem to be wearing. A tad more formal if you will. A tad more 'historical' although that's not quite right for what it is but it is different. He sits calmly with his hands in his lap, observant, but passive at the moment.
When the Daimyo enters, Taji stiffens in his seat a bit, impressive considering how straight he had been seated prior, but there is a change there. He sits very still as he watches the parade of high nobles and the Daimyo towards the high table. His eyes follow their travel as just a hint of a frown touches his lips, but never touches his eyes. His head turns as he watches the group progress up to the larger table. Finally as others return to their gossip and normal buzz returns to the room, Taji takes a drink from one of the servers, something non-alcoholic, and takes a sip, then sets the glass down in front of himself on the table.

As the Daimyo enters Abiku and Tohime would pause and look over curiously, bowing slightly until they motioned for things to return to normal, he isn't completely uncivilized. As the chatter begins to return Abiku turns his attention back to the delicious looking entrees and he takes up some type of seafood cake and begins eating it, offering some to his nin-dog Tohime who happily finishes the treat with a wagging tail. The appetizer finished the two turn back to the nobles and other present, taking note of some of the others that enter bearing the Fire countries markings, he moves to Fuyu and looks her and her Kimono over with a smirk, "You seem entirely too pleased to be here." he says to her, sarcasm thick on his tone as he crosses his arms.

Setsiro took a breath as she settled herself down. Abruptly, she seemed as much a part of this place as the other nobles, her motions graceful, showcasing her every regal asset. The small woman gives Akane a simple, small smile, at his awe of the place and simply turned around, beginning to wander through the crowd.
"Simply because," she began demurely, passing by Fuyu who stood near a pillar. "People have to do insignificant things to remain sane enough to do the important things. It is the way of things." She looked then towards the new arrivals.
She arches a a slender brow, the corner of a lip moving upwards. She looked towards Abiku and Tohime, inclining her head. "Pleased to meet the three of you. I am Reizei Setsiro."
She looked back to see if Akane had followed and if he had, she would gesture towards him. "And he is Akane. Yourselves?"

Akane would first take in the lavish and elegant visual spectacle of the mansion. Here he found the art he was looking for, the design the setting it was all set up so notably. Akane would have to keep himself under control as so much beauty would overwhelm him. He remained calm, keeping his composure in order. Akane looking around as the room fell silent, would then set his gaze on the samurai. Then as the a man entered Akane would hear several whispers 'The Daimyo, he has graced us….who is that at his side? She looks familiar….I can't believe it! It's Lady Ryoko….' Akane would hear this amongst the many whispering voices. He would bow slightly to show his respect. Realizing now that Setsiro had began drifting through the crowd Akane would follow. He would be looking around at all the attendants in this gathering, quite a bit of people. Stopping now as he hears Setsiro speak to someone Akane would look to see who, a rather intimidation woman is what he saw, she looked good in a kimono though, but not too happy about it. Akane would wave and smile as Setsiro introduced him. "Pleasure to meet you all."

The Odori clan had split and at the enter of the swordsmen, Takeshi eyed them, almost seeming to analyze just how 'veteran' they may be. Apparently decided on that point, he turned to Aoi and shrugged lightly, "All this for one man. Never will understand daimyo's." Aoi rolls her eyes and then the Daimyo enters. Everyone bows, even Aoi manages a polite bow towards the Daimyo, but Takeshi? Yeah, he inclines his bodya little bit, but it's not a proper bow. Still, he's an old man, his back ain't what it use to be. At least, that's his excuse for this.
The other three who had wandered off bowed when the Daimyo entered, but soon continued off to find more food. Sumiya was being dragged along like some kind of toy and she had for the most part resigned herself to babysitting duty while Mom and Paw, her nickname for Aoi and Takeshi, went off and handled all the 'adult business.'
Now, Takeshi and Aoi manuever their way through the nobles and other people, politely talking to a few and greeting and introducing, until they finally managed to find a seat at the table and almost as if sensing it, the other three wander over and sit down. All five of them in a row in their order of age and position in the Odori family, though whether this was done intentionally, unintentionally or without realizing they did it was unsure, however, it seems they ended up sitting across from Taji.

Fuyu is watching Taji. He is sitting alone, rigid, polite, quiet. He is doing nothing to draw attention to himself, but also is not trying to remain unseen. That is exactly why she finds him so suspicious. Maybe it's just her paranoia or the fact that EVERYONE is out to get her, but she finds something distasteful about Taji's behavior in particular. It just does not seem… 'Right' somehow. Not enough… Something. Something she can't put her finger on.
She'll figure it out later, and maybe tell Taji to man up a bit. He is representing the Hidden Leaf Village, after all. But right now the Daimyou has entered so she pauses in her supervising of her student, and waits for the Daimyou to pass and indicate they are free to continue with… Whatever. She is then being addressed by a boy and his dog. "What? Did you come all the way over here just to make inane comments? Yes, as you noticed, I am VERY happy to be here. I have every reason to be. This is a banquet being held to honor ME, at least in PART, and that is why I am wearing this… This…" She points at the offending garment.
"…Whatever this is supposed to be! I can't believe the previous Clan Head wore something with this pattern. He must have been color-blind, fashion-blind, and common sense-blind!" There is a lot of noise in the banquet hall. But she's probably causing at least a few heads to turn in curiosity or annoyance.

As the Lord and his Lady were seated near the center of the table, the unspoken signal for the food to be eaten was readily given. Many immediately went for the unveiled platters, though just as many chose to forgo the food for now in favor of continuing worthwhile conversation, catching up with old friends, scheming anew against enemies, or even trying to woo the objects of their affections. But more than the food, it was the entrance of the performing troupe that brought the most attention.
Jugglers came in first amidst the beginnings of live music as the band began playing a merry note that brought about the urge to dance in those predisposed to doing so. Following behind them were the contortionists, walking on their hands, bending their legs into odd angles all about their bodies to the amused gaze of the onlookers. Finally came the fire-breathers, holding their torches with small flasks of alcoholic liquids which they used to breath their potent, brief-lived fires up into the air, causing ladies to gasp and men to smirk. Through the throng these professional entertainers moved, the orchestra playing their merried, echoing tune all the while.
At the head table the Lady Ryoko laughs as the Daimyo leans in close and whispers in her ear, bringing a hand demurely to her lips to contain a guffaw into a giggle. Servants practically fly about the pair, delivering known favorite dishes within arm's reach, prompting the dark-haired diva to lift up a small red fruit, a strawberry, nibbling about the edges of the morsel. Her eyes flick towards the tall male steadily approaching their occupied table and linger long enough for the Lord of this land to notice and lean closer, speaking to the diva. A few moments of animated chatter from the pale-skinned woman follows, pointing in Amuro's direction rather limp-wristedly. Whatever she has said causes Shuichi to smile and nod his head in acceptance.
The samurai naturally scrutinize Amuro as he approaches, but a flash of his invitation is enough to not be harassed or stopped with an outstretched arm. Still, he is watched, as is most anyone who comes near, the guards having a lifetime of training in their diligence and chosen because they were the best. Should anything befall their lord on their watch their entire clans would be shamed and possibly stripped of their status.
The Kazekage is allowed to pass through the mini-screen of personal guards without incident, though his arrival does cause a marked increase in the tension of the samurai with a known foreign shinobi so close to their feudal overseer. The Daimyo breaks off his low-murmured conversation with his beau as he's addressed, turning in his seat to find the Kage of the Land of Wind addressing him. The male clears his throat and smiles, the same fake smile most politicians used at public events.
"Kokoroe, I'm so glad you could make it. Yes, I'm hearing very good things about the tournament so far. It does you credit that it has been such a successful turnout." You can almost see the Daimyo's chest puff out at the compliment he is paid. "You will have to arrange a demonstration for us of these damage-mitigating arenas. They sound fascinating."
But Lady Ryoko is already shaking her head. "No, no, please not for me, my lord." Lifting her eyes up towards the Kazekage, the performer bows her head slightly. "I am afraid I am not fond of any sport that involves intentional violence, Kororoe-sama, wasn't it? The mere thought makes me queasy."
The head and shoulders of an elderly woman, gray hair and wrinkled skin in abundance yet standing straight and tall as an arrow, and about as thin too, appears from between the large curtains of the main stage. The woman waves a hand about, snapping her fingers several times as if that sound would carry above the din of the room to its target. And yet the Lady Ryoko at least seems to find the visual cue, violet eyes locking onto the old crone's waving arm. Smiling benignly, she address both men as she stands. "Please excuse me, I must get ready. I'm sure you men have a lot of catching up to do best done away from the oversight of women." Before departing, the dark-haired diva lightly touches the noble's shoulder, receiving a light squeeze against her hand in parting, Shuichi's eyes following her as she vanishes towards the entrance they had just recently come in.
"The fairer sex have no concept of true sport, mm?"

Abiku laughs a little bit as Fuyu speaks, shaking his head, "Oh yea, nothing but sublime contentment." he says, almost with a hint of teasing in his tone as he does a mock, sweeping bow to Fuyu before righting himself and looking down to Tohime, "Come on, let's get some more to eat." he says, obviously caring little about the high and mighty feel of the evening. He does pause however and turn halfway around to look back at Setsiro and Fuyu, "Oh, almost forgot. I'm Inuzuka Abiku,." he says with a wide grin, his extended canines visible as he turns to take in another wiff of the air.

There are not a LARGE number of Kumogakure ninja here for the tournament, but they are significant enough in number and reputation to be easily recognized. The woman that looks like a Yotsuki, and yet is dressed very differently from most Kumogakure ninja, is thus a bit odd. She is not known. She won her first match of the tournament in a rather dramatic fashion, but she is not RECOGNIZED by most, even so.
She is also presently sitting at a table in a red kimono with the pattern of leaves in autumn gold and browns on it. For once, her face is uncovered. Kishi Mune sits and pokes around some food she does not recognize and is not convinced is food on a small side-dish plate. She is mostly just waiting for tonight to be over. The one time she looks up is the time she spots a man dressed in clothing she has not seen in a long time. Not quite entirely traditional for a Demon-Queller, but same general theme, same general design… What is a Demon-Queller doing here?
Her eyes narrow as her heart thumps quickly in her -- for ONCE, adequately covered -- chest. She can't think of any reason for this. Is he here for the tournament? Demon-Quellers don't care much about fighting for sport. They want to get rid of demons. Is he here about the Bijuu? About that thing from that awful Cave? Or is he merely an agent of… THAT man!?
Suspicious, conspiracy theories, and conflicting emotions and thoughts are fly around wildly in Mune's blonde-haired head. And yet, all she shows outwardly is some vague interest as she pushes her seat back and gets to her feet, before approaching the man picking food off the appetizer table. Permission to actually get started on the meals is given, now that the Daimyou is seated. But Mune is not hungry. She needs to know first.
So she approaches the much-taller person with a smile on her lips, and asks Kairiki, "See anything edible yet? I'm having a hard time finding anything."

A young Kirigakure ninja walks into the room, presenting an invitation with the name he was going by here in Kusagakure, Hanzen. With a wide and lighthearted grin he makes his way through the crown and the people seated. He was late for the banquet, though he didn't know exactly what time it was, he only hoped to get there in time for the food, but it sounded like there would be a lot to go around which was the reason that brought him here in the first place. A hearty meal and a bunch of treats would make him cheery and content, allowing him to think of the match ahead.
He seemed comfortable in his surroundings, but he wasn't dressed for a banquet. He donned a plain jumpsuit anyway, and more noticeably a re-breather mask guarding his mouth and face. This caused a few people to look his way, and it posed a problem for eating a solid meal, so he had to plan to eat later, as much as he wanted to chow down. He had a risky plan at best, to acquire food for his own feast.
He didn't have the slightes bit of reputation, so he was mostly able to avoid people's attention as he makes his way down the tables in a nonchallant manner. Keeping an eye and ear focused on his surroundings, his hand flies swiftly to grab pieces of meat and things that looked good from off the table, somehow disappearing into the pockets on his apparel. His ultimate goal was to wait for the best of the sweets to come his way.
He smirks silently and settles into place as the Daimyo and the samurai appear in the hall. He didn't know what to expect, after that, whether there might be a performance or not certainly peaked his interest though. He looks around at the people close by, to find out if he knew anyone or see if anyone looked interesting to talk to, just enough as to politely not interfere. Not to his surprise, there were surely some interesting looking people that were present, such as the tall one, the Kage, and the Lady Ryoko.

Kairiki is picking through the various dishes on the table, seemingly lost in his own little world for the time being. As he senses, mainly by hearing, that someone is next to him he turns and smiles. Responding before really processing the situation, he says, "These charred meat bits are quite good for not being terribly fancy. And these things over here with the sauce on them? I don't know what they are but they kinda crunch and are so good." Upon further processing of the facts at hand, he politely steps back a little from the table, adopting a posture that isn't as "this is my food place!" as before.
Kairiki swallows what he is eating before bowing very slightly. A multitude of random charms and bits of metal clink against each other as he bows. He then says, "This is quite a gathering, much finer than any I have been to lately." His eyes drift off to the side as he thinks about how his last social gathering was far less impressive by any standard of thinking.

Sousa crinkles his already-wizened features to the Daimyou. "Indeed, but we cannot blame them. They do not feel the bliss of mastering body and mind as we do, and see only the board being broken, not the hand being built. Even amongst men, there are many who equate that feeling of ecstacy with the shock of seeing another's blood spilled. It is the wise man who can discern between them." Sousa's true views aren't quite as sexist as all that <strike>(they hardly could be when three-quarters of his military seem to be female)</strike>, but it applies well enough to a pampered flower like Lady Ryoko, right? ;) Sousa glances at the tall man. "Ah, I do not believe I have met this favored friend of the Daimyou before. Might I have the honor of an introduction?"

Shinji wasn't graced with a gold stamped to sit with the Daimyo, but was enjoying the party so far. Watching the performers perform and the musicians play, the light skinned man moves towards a table to sit down and just watch the festivities. The table is occupied by a woman in a red kimono, he bows his head to her, "Hello." he says to her. Then looking back around, he starts taking note of a few of teh individual, one of them being Sousa as he speaks with the Daimyou. He brings the glass of wine he has up to his mouth and takes a sip of the liquid then places the glass onto the table. He then looks to the woman beside him, "How are you doing?" he asks.

Taji looks at his drink abit, as if avoiding looking back at the Daimyo's table for some reason then turns his attention across the table to the pair who sat down across from him. He tilts his head a tad, studying them, but says nothing other than a brief head nod of recognition. He seems to be doing his best to be just appropriately enough engaging but otherwise acting in a way that might let him blend into the background. A wall flower without a wall as it were. No medals are hanging from him. No flashing symbols of pride other than the standard forehead protector around his waist. He lifts his glass again and takes another sip, then gracefully puts it back down. Something about his motions seem a tad off for a ninja. His actions seem to have some practice to them, perhaps he is mirroring the actions of those at the high table, in the formal dance of such a dinner through one's simple actions. Little things, like how one holds the glass, or sits, or the like.

Amuro appears either to not see or not recognize the Kazekage -- which would be a strike against the hypothesis of him being the same man as from the siege, if the latter. When he comes closer he takes a seat about three or four down from where the Daimyou is seated, without even hesitating. Very confident whomever he is. Amuro does not know what identity he may have been introduced by to the Daimyou when Lady Ryoko spoke to him, but he knows what is on his invitation. Because he sent the imitation to the Daimyou originally, along with a little Seal that would make the man stamp his approval and forget he had done so upon opening the letter.
And now he has the invitation in hand, sent back to him when it was handed off to the letter carrier with the rest. And whom is the man to be identified as? "Benefactor Hei-Long from the Wu Province," the man says in a distinctly different voice from the one Sousa might have been expecting. This one is a bit softer, a bit more subdued, and gentle. And yet his features and his build indicate that if he were to get into a fight, he would be anything BUT gentle. Appearances are not everything, but still…
…Wait, 'Hei-Long'? Wu Province? That's… That's the name of a man that is rumored to be some sort of warlord or crime boss or perhaps a man that isn't supposed to exist. A myth. A 'bogie-man' that is used to motivate armies of ruthless soldiers in their quest to conquer all of the Southern Territories. That war has been going on for at >least< 30 years now. In order for this to be >that< Hei-Long, he would need to have been leading the armies since the day he was born, based on his apparent age.
"This violence-suppression magic that Lord Takahiro has gained holds great interest to me. There is much unpleasantness and violence in the lands beyond Wu Province. I have many resources that are of no use to me, but would benefit the Land of Grass immensely. For the ability to stop a fight from claiming lives, I would gladly give all the copper and coal and so forth that we do not need. That was your wise suggestion, was it not, Lord Takahiro? The reason you invited me? To see for myself the effectiveness of your magic?" He looks eagerly at the Daimyou with a vague smile on his lips, and then turns towards Sousa to see if perhaps he is on this plan already.

Takeshi nods, but offers little other attention to Taji. Perhaps they both have the same idea, stay quiet, let it ride, eat and leave as soon as possible. Aoi has much the same decision in mind as she responds with a nod but little else. Sumiya, Yuuji and Akiko however were talking amongst themselves and while they don't talk to Taji, they also don't reply to his nod of greeting. Figures.
When drink is brought to their positions, they offer thanks and then silently sip at their drinks. Perhaps the odori family doesn't like high brow meetings like this.

Akane would chuckle at Fuyu's words, some faces looked their way now, Fuyu seems to be drawing a lot of attention to herself. For a clan head she is quite an odd one, she possessed a more…peculiar personality that most. Akane comments "Quite a divergent flower she seems to be….." Akane nods to Abiku and compliments "Nice dog Abiku, he must be well trained, I am impressed." Akane would turn to Setsiro "I suppose I'll be getting something to eat too." He waves slightly and is off. On his way he would notice the performers "Ah some entertainment, here I was afraid it would be all politics and shocking gossip." Akane said.

Setsiro nodded Akane off as he decided to leave, and looked towards Abiku. "Pleased to meet you," she said in greeting. A gesture went to the pup at his side. "And their name?" She looked past the group closest at hand for a moment, catching sight of Takeshi. She stared at him for a moment or two.

Mune recognizes Shinji hitting up some woman for conversation. Men. All the same. Then she focuses back on Kairiki as he finishes telling her about how crunchy those 'things' are. "It is a very… Busy gathering, yes. Many people, much entertainment and good food… And yet most people here aren't really happy. Ever notice that? The ones who have everything are the ones who do not appreciate what they have."
She shrugs and bows briefly to the man with all the charms and trinkets dangling from his garments. "I am Kishi Mune. A pleasure to meet you, sir." She wants to just ask flat out. 'What is a Demon-Queller doing here?' But that might betray her knowledge. If he does not know it is her yet, then she… She… Just gave her name. Dammit.

Abiku eats another of the tasty seafood cakes before looking at Akane and Setsiro, "She is Tohime." he says with a warm smile at his ninja-dog companion, petting the top of her head and offering her some food, "I am a member of the Gamma branch of the Inuzuka clan. Basically… I train dogs." he adds with another smile as he eats some more food, "Not so sure about the company… but the food and entertainment is nice." he says motioning towards the performers.

Fuyu waves off Abiku and turns her attention on Setsiro. "Yes, nice to meet you too. Sorry about not saying so before. I am Uchiha Fuyu. I am just… Not accustomed to all this formality and… 'Dressing up' like a pompous oaf! I am not comfortable here. I do not feel safe. And when I do not feel safe, I tend to become…"
She tries to find a good adjective. "…Stabinthethroaty." That was not an adjective, but it gets the point across. She looks up as she sees the activity level increasing around the main stage at the far end of the hall, with all the curtains and paper lanterns and such. "…Well, I do like theater sometimes. Maybe that will settle my nerves." Yeah, right. She looks back to Taji one more time, and then decides she'll check out the theater later. Right now she is going to find out what is going on with her student.
"Is something wrong?" she asks Taji in a half-concerned and half-accusatory tone. "You seem a bit… Under the weather."

Taji is just doing his thing, which is kind of odd for those who know him, in that he seems very formal. He simply lets things go with the people across from him with a nod and all. When Fuyu-sama approaches he pauses, and turns to her. When she asks if something is wrong he shakes his head, "No. I am fine." He says, a tad stilted in his answer, almost as if he were not quite himself. Someone pretending to be Taji? Or a Taji Puppet? Or? No, just Taji being overly formal for some reason. He stands after a moment and says, "Perhaps you are right. I may be under the weather. I should leave, to be polite." He suggests as he starts to prepare to do just that, it seems.

Akane returns with a plate full of leafy greens, garden salad, fresh veggies etc. all that good stuff you hated as a child. He also had some seafood cakes as they seemed to be good since Abiku was devouring them so quickly, Akane wouldn't want to miss out. He takes a bite. His eyes widen, obviously Akane is easily impressed. "Mmm these are good…" Akane says after swallowing his first bite. He wonders what he missed while he was gone, returning to Setsiro he noticed Fuyu wasn't with her. "Where did the 'sunshine' go?" he asked

"Well put, I should say." The Daimyo takes his eyes off of their expectant perch of the curtains on the center stage to turn them towards the Kazekage. "Oh. Him? Ah…" The fuedal lord trails off as the towering male takes it upon himself to make his own introduction, the near-forty-something ruler nodding along in passive acceptance, as if he didn't quite remember the name and was glad to not have to put it out himself. "Yes? Yes! Yes, quite right. The end of war and violence is a noble pursuit, one worthy of the Land of Grass."
The Daimyo motions towards the chair at his other side, opposite of the Kazekage's current position, previously occupied by the now-absent Lady Ryoko. "Please, join us over here. If not I may have some local lord soon at my side pestering me about some insignificant problem I have no need to hear of." Throughout speaking, however, Shuichi's eyes continually stray towards the large, dark curtains covering part of the main stage. Finally a hush begins to fall in that direction and his gaze lights up. "Ah ha! It starts. Gentlemen you are truly in for a treat."

At a cue unseen, servants move seemlessly about the room, snuffing nearly half the paper lanterns in the vicinity of the main stage, and all of the ones immediately surrounding it, plunging the mysterious curtains into darkness. Abruptly the music changes, the orchestra shifting it's tone and beat at the dousing of the lights. Many eyes turn towards the stage, including those of the Daimyo, leaning forward on his elbows as though in anticipation. Others pay attention only partially, half-watching, half-speaking. The rest either ignore the spectacle, having more 'important' things to do, or begin to watch one of the peripheral stages and the performances beginning there. Small plays and lone or paired dances begin on these smaller stages, a distraction for those too far away or not wishing to pay attention to the 'main' show, adding variety to the entertainment.
The curtain rises slowly, revealing a stage backlit in a pale blue glow, the color of nightfall. A beautifully painted backdrop supports this illusion, the canvas enormous, stretching the length of the stage and nearly tall enough to reach the ceiling. It depicts the forest at night, trees thick in the woods, a clear, starry evening. Standing before this, her silhouette barely illuminated in the almost-nonexistent light, is the Lady Ryoko, her clothing having changed. In the place of her previous dress is a kimono of fine silk of a dark brown color that looked black in the current light. Upon it was embroidered white lines, looking at first chaotic and unorthodox to the eyes, stretching out every which way as if it were shattered glass.
In both hands she holds a fan, one dark green, the other brown, each so delicate it looked as if a stiff breeze would snap them in half. One arm is stretched down and infront of her, holding the brown fan, the other is held up at arm's length, skyward, one leg placed slightly forward through a slit in the kimono's edge that allowed freedom of movement not otherwise possible. From either side of the stage come other dancers, filing on in two rows of five each, one behind the other, both behind Ryoko herself, half wearing green kimonos, the other half brown. Slowly they begin to move, turning slow circles with arms outstretched, even as the star herself remains motionless, eyes downcast, features all but hidden beneath her mass of loose dark hair.

Hanzen would survey the area and the people, and if by chance he made eye contact with anyone he would give them a smile, politely and kindly. He took a seat, so he would be in close quarters to take the food. The conversations from the important people were somewhat over his head, and the rest of the conversations were those of adults as well, but it might be hard to tell if this young ninja was of a certain age, or he was simply short. Of course, Hanzen who was in fact not who he saif he was, as a missing Yamayuki, was still keen to listen to each conversation with his enhanced preternatural sense of hearing. This gave him an extra potential threat to be at this banquet, and in Kusagakure, the tournament in the first place, as there were a lot of Kumogakure ninja around. Thankfully, he was able to use ninja deceit to its full potential. Hanzen sat quietly awaiting for the sweets to come by while underneath the mask he was actually drooling at the mouth.
That man, he had not known who he was, but could tell even with his gentle voice that he was a certain type of man, perhaps even one that he aspired to be like. The Kazekage too, held a certain power to control a whole village. The conversations before him were not going unnoticed either, and he notices one reaction from the woman who introduced herself to someone else as Mune, and a smirk comes to his lips, not too hard to notice. Peering towards Shinji from the side, he lets out a clow chuckle "Hee..he..he." He heard the act getting set up backstage, and the performance caught his attention. With a wide glare of amuzement he listened to the music and watched Lady Ryoko. He was an artist in his own right.

The woman who was sitting near him stands up and walks off to another table, Shinji just shakes his head. He stands up from his table and walks over to where the food was and makes a plate for himself. He doesn't get a lot, but enough to state him for now. He then walks back over towards his table, but as he does he listens to a few conversations on his way. There were a few that interested him and listening for names, he would then make it back to his table and sit down. As he does the music that is playing changes and the curtains begin to rise. A lot of the conversations died down as all attention was focused on the stage. Taking a quick bite of his food, Shinji watches as the curtains fully raise. As the performance begin, Shinji can't help but watch, he does glance occassionally to the table where the Daimyou and the others are seated. Seeing that everything is alright, he watches the start of the performance.

Taking a seat with his plate now, he would enjoy the perfromance. He had lost Setsiro in the crowd, so he decided to just relax and enjoy what the banquet had to offer. Leaning his head on his hand, certainly not graceful, Akane seemed to be bored somewhat. He hoped the performance would be amuzing. He would look to see that the famous Lady Ryoko would be on stage now. "I wounder why she is so well known, perhaps now is my chance to see." Akane leans forward a bit to observe the performance more closely. Akane would look to his plate to reach for another fish cake, but seems to eaten them all…"Oh well, can'tt get more now with this show goin on."

The Daimyo continues his conversation with the Kazekage and his tall, mysterious 'friend' under the watchful eye of his samurai guardsmen. His eyes almost never seem to leave the performance of his Precious Consort before him, seemingly paying only half-attentionto the matters at hand.
The circles the dancers turn begin to come faster, speed picking up until they finally break out in all directions, cavorting and leaping in coordinated chaos, occasionally one dancer leaping over another as she crouches. They spin and cavort around Lady Ryoko, the starlet not moving a muscles as minutes drag by, each of the dancers pairing off with another of opposite color, arms and legs sinuously entwining in practiced movements of restless energy, forming a loose circle around the dark-haired woman, the orchestra playing a quiet, peaceful note that carried with it an undercurrent of haste.
Ryoko's arms abruptly reverse direction, the green fan pointing downwards, the brown one pointing towards the heavens as she snaps both fans shut. On cue the other dancers scatter, cavorting in a blind panic off of the stage, behind the curtains to either side. Slowly the lights begin to come on around the stage, lighting up the wooded painting as if dawn were breaking, the pale-skinned brunette moving with languid grace, as if she were feeling sluggish and not yet quite awake. She turns in a small circle, her feet gliding across the smooth wooden floor in her tabi socks, her arms alternately stretching up and down, green fan, brown, green, brown. Each time she faces a new direction she stops, tilting her head slightly as if looking and listening for something as soft orange light illuminates more of the stage. With every movement the white broken-glass patterns of her kimono swirls, becoming unrecognizable blurs of white which leave behind after images. The orchestra's music changes beat and tempo, picking up speed only slightly, yet the notes are higher, the percussions stronger, adding a higher sense of urgency.
Slowly another curtain rises, the one the wooded painting is attached to, bringing the first starlit background out of view and revealing a second, similar one, though this one showing a near-identical, but not a perfect replica, of those woods by daylight. Back onto the stage come the dancers, this time having traded their green and brown kimonos for red and blue, five of each, each forming a line of their own colors on opposite ends of the stage. They dance towards each other as Ryoko turns in the middle as if to dash first one way, only to be blocked by the blue dancers, then the other, only to be barred by the red. Just before they close upon the starlet, the dancers break off into pairs once more, this time the paired dancing seeming more competitive, adversarial, as if they were trying to force each other off-stage. The music here abandons all pretense of languid tranquility, its pace upbeat and vibrant with disharmony.

Han took a liking to the music, the dance was enjoyable, how it was so artistically well done. It was a treat for him to come here, but he couldn't leave without at least having met one person, and of course the dessert. He was a curious young ninja and knew that there were secrets to discover by talking to the right person. He noticed Shinji was also watching the performance, and whoever he was he could find that they had something in common. Whatever it was, he laughs about it a bit. Looking over to Shemji, he says almost in a low voice "Excuse me, are you a contestant in the tournament?" In a sincere tone, tilting his head to the side, tapping his finger lightly on the table. He would have clapped, snapped or done anything else to show his appreciation for the performance at the right time.

Shinji was one who enjoyed quite a few things and art was one of them. As the music and the dancing began, he found himself taken aback. The dancing is splendid and the orchestra and dancers each knew their ques. Everything was timed with each of changes Lady Ryokos dance. As it came to an end he was thoroughly enteretained. Clapping along with the others who were here watching the show, Shinji reaches for his drink and sips at the wine. WHen the man next to him began talking to him, he looks over towards him. "No, I'm just here to watch the competition and do a bit of work." he tells Hanzen, "Are you in the competition?" he asks.

As the Lady Ryoko's dancing becomes more erratic, filling with panic, the 'fighters' begin to die off one by one, dropping to the floor in pairs, one red, one blue. With each 'death' the string instruments give a sudden outbursting chorus of wails, and soon there are no opposing dancers left, leaving the diva alone on the stage once more. The lights brighten again, bathing the entire stage in a harsh orange glow, and once more the curtains, and their attached canvas, begin to rise to reveal a new backdrop.
This one depicts another similar, but not quite identical, woodland setting, but ablaze with fires. Animals swarm and flee from the blaze, trees are left scorched and brittle, and the fire, so immaculately painted, almost seems alive and twitching in the bright lamplight. Ryoko sways unsteadily on her feet, her fists clenched at her temples, shaking her head at the imaginary carnage about her as she turns in slow circles.
Two men, the first male dancers seen so far, step onto the stage, each glaring across the way at the other. One wears resplendent red armor, the other blue. Slowly, in measured steps, they begin to revolve around the diva as the chorus shifts into a slower, deeper, more ominous tone, punctuated by deep percussion clashes. The two men approach, and then the one in red reaches out and grabs Ryoko by the upper arm, yanking her towards himself. The other pushes the first, wrenching the brunette away from him even as she tries to futilely escape from his grip. Back and forth it goes as the music plays, showing the two men wrestling over the female star, both fans lying broken and forgotten on the floor.
The music was almost deafening now as the two men each gripped one of Ryoko's arms, pulling her first one way, and then the other, her dark mane of hair flying with every hurtful yank, the dance chaotic, powerful, passionate, and full of hate. With a final scream outrage and anguish, the first spoken component of the performance, she pushes the two men apart and away from herself, swaying forward, then back, turning a dizzy spin, and then collapsing in a heap upon the ground, her hair spraying out like a midnight silken halo as the music abruptly ends with Lady Ryoko's on-stage death.
With great regret, each armored man, otherwise motionless, bows their head before turning and silently walking off-stage. As the main curtains begin to drop, covering the 'corpses' and the canvas, the audience erupts into uproarous applause. Back at his table, the Daimyo smiles widely in appreciation, leaning back in his seat, fingering his chin as the performance is brought to a close.

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