Date: July 24, 2010
Later on the same day that Shinji is approached by the strange Onohara woman, "Lady Ryoko", her "rescuer", and a certain Hyuuga, all encounter that same woman. Things get tense.
A Small Town - Land of Grass
The same small inn that Lady Ryoko is staying in, along with the healthy and minorly-wounded survivors of her entourage (though crowded into their own rooms, not the diva's), has a sort of pub downstairs. Earlier, Shinji, one of those who assisted in protecting Lady Ryoko from harm, had stopped by for some food and found himself engaged in conversation with a woman who literally appeared from >nowhere<. She knew him. He didn't know her. And then she explained who she was, and why she was here…
That conversation, however, has only passing relevance to why the woman has stuck around. Sitting in a corner of the room, in a chair, is… Nothing visible. And yet there is someone sitting in that chair, waiting for Datura to come downstairs, with or without her 'heroine'. This someone is invisible to any form of light-based detection, regardless of the spectrum, means, or method. It's a benefit that comes with being an experienced ninja of the Onohara Clan. Light Manipulation is quite handy for remaining undetected by most.
So, the unseen, highly light-sensitive eyes of the woman remain squinted nearly shut, as she watches the stairs… And bides her time.
It was quite a while after the main group had arrived that Lady Ryoko had emerged from her chosen chambers. When Taishi, her head bodyguard, had checked in on her, she'd pleaded that she was 'ill with distress' and, being the fragile diva that she was, was not to be disturbed as she recuperated. Shinji was given the dead, and runaway, guard's fees, while no one really knew exactly what had become of the woman who'd carried the Lady here. The surviving members, which included the young blonde's promotional manager, were stuffed unpleasantly in the other four rooms, along with Datura's alter-ego's belongings. Immediately, after eating, set out into the village proper in order to seek replacements for the second leg of the journey into the Land of Wind from the local workforce.
It's been dark outside for over an hour before the budding diva leaves her room, looking appropriately haggard and pale, with her hair in disarray (though apparently not TOO much disarray), being helped down the stairs by one of the few staff of the tiny establishment, holding onto her hand and elbow as he guides her as if she were made of porcelain and might shatter with a misstep. Her lovely golden kimono has been eschewed in favor of a more practical one that ended just below her knees, tied primly in the back and violet in color, matching her suede slippers.
Even while 'ill with distress', Lady Ryoko's clothing managed to cost more than a farmer would make in a month.
If Datura recognized anyone who might be present, her eyes gave no flashes of recognition, and she's quickly guided to a table, where a matronly woman, the wife of the proprietor, hovers worriedly over her, asking the 'poor dear' if she'd like anything to drink, commenting on her being 'as pale as the spirits themselves'. Datura summons up a weak, grateful smile in response.
"Yes, thank you. Some tea may help steady my nerves, please. When my manager gets back, would you please tell him I'll see him now?"
Still in her 'Kanami of the Desert' appearance, the disguised actress appears from upstairs a couple minutes after Lady Ryoko does. The gap between when one showed up and then the other will totally dissuade anyone from asking questions. Though if someone REALLY wants to know, Kanami will just tell them she was guarding Ryoko, and that'd be the end of that. Her skin is presently far darker than her natural tone, appropriate to a Land of Wind native. Likewise, so is her clothing — white linen, loose, etc. Though since the Land of Grass is not exactly desert territory (on account of all the grass), she has refrained from wearing her sheika or whatever the heck those things are called. No head-coverage or face-scarves or turbans either! Her long, black hair is tied back into a single braid that reaches down to mid-back.
Though Ryoko may appear to be slightly disshevelled, apparently Kanami is emaculate. How does she manage it? It's just a gift. Her hair always seems to fall JUST the right way without her needing to do anything. Kanami heads over to the table that Datura is seated at, but does not sit immediately. Instead she just stands nearby and gazes out the nearest window, onto the street outside. It's almost like she's looking for someone.
- Several Days Prior -
Sometime during the afternoon, Tomoyo had taken her leave of Lady Ryoko's presence to go and search for the contact that was part of her primary reason for joining the diva's road trip. She wasn't sure what exactly she was looking for, and was left believing that this contact would find HER if she wandered around long enough in public to be found. This went on for several hours as the girl idly wandered the small town, window shopping and just taking in the scenery of the world around her. It was probably one of the first times she had been able to just go out and investigate freely since she had left home to travel with Papa.
Eventually she would be found by this agent in waiting, signalled to follow the fellow into small open restaurant. There, the pair would act like normal people and ordered something for lunch. Of course, the agent didn't seem to hungry since he didn't touch his food. All he was interested in was the envelope that Tomoyo had been carrying around for days now. At some point during the course of the girl's lunch, she had produced this long awaited parcel and slid it across the table to the one seated across from her. Before she could even finish sliding it all the way over there, the man would hastily snatch it up and deposit it somewhere inside his garments so that nobody would see it.
After the parcel had found it's recipient, the lunch meeting didn't last for much longer. The man only drank whatever was left of his drink and excused himself as if whatever was in that envelope was the most important thing in the world. Leaving Tomoyo to her own devices, she'd linger in the restaurant to finish her meal and then meander back to the hotel where Ryoko was staying. Sadly, during her time out and about… it seems that Lady Ryoko and her entire entourage had packed up and moved on to the next town. This left the girl baffled that she had been so easily left behind. "She really /does/ hate me!" is the only thing she says aloud, standing out in front of the now vacant hotel where the group had stayed. Why did she think so? Because she had been left with the bill.
Sadly for Tomoyo, she didn't have quite enough funds to cover the entire bill. Her entire life savings drained in a single day. And to make things worse, she was put to work by the proprietor to work off the remainder of the debt, cleaning rooms and doing any odd job anyone could think of. This would set her back several days before she could begin tracking down Lady Ryoko to 'thank' her for leaving her the bill.
- Present -
After the whole hotel bill deal, Tomoyo had to hurry up and catch up to the traveling entourage. Even her special jutsu made it only slightly less difficult to follow the trail left behind. She had to rely more on the people who she met along the way and ask about where the next stop was in Lady Ryoko's tour. Eventually she'd pass the area where the attack on the troupe occured and began to fear the worst of the group. This only hastened her travels until she finally reached the town where she had word of where the group holed up. Locating the Inn in which they had taken up residence in, this is where she'd stop first. It was already dark out by the time she arrived, slinking into the Inn and looking rather well traveled. Dusty and a bit on the exhausted side. For now, she didn't care if Ryoko was here, right now she wanted a place to sit. And maybe sleep for a day. So she deposits herself in a secluded booth to recooperate a little before resuming her search, which seemed to be in the very room! Though she hasn't quite taken notice yet.
Datura and Kanami sit/stand here before her. That means that the last two she needed to speak with in this town/hamlet are within reach. The Onohara woman rises from her chair, and begins to walk towards Lady Ryoko's table. Soft leather boots muffle most of the noise of footfalls, so it may be very hard indeed to notice that someone is approaching. Especially with the fact that she is invisible. And yet a moment later, there she is. An average height woman with very pale skin, medium-length, shaggy, violet hair that conceals the right side of her face with a 'sweep' of lilac-hued strands. She is wearing a sleeveless black muscle shirt, and dark-red leather pants, along with the aforementioned leather boots. Her left eye, the one visible is barely open at all. Very squinty, as though the light level was bothering her.
She is also standing right behind Datura's chair. "'Lady Ryoko', are you fit to speak? You look even more ill than when last we spoke.—And please do not throw anything at me this time. If there is something wrong with your health, it must be tended to, rather than denied." The Onohara woman turns her attention on Kanami next, and inclines her head slightly. "I am satisfied to see that you made it as well, 'Miss'." She does not know what name Kanami may be going by in this guise, so does not speak her actual name.
Yes, Tomoyo is in the room. Did this woman notice? Not really. It's hard to see when only 1/6th of one's left eye is providing visual input, and the right eye is concealed behind a thick curtain of hair. It should probably not take much guesswork for Datura and Kanami to determine who this is — or Datura, at least. Kanami may not have heard yet about this particular new talent being displayed obviously and yet unobtrusively before her.
As Wind Country Kanami takes her leave of the room and meanders downstairs to join her grateful, if temporary, ward, the Lady Ryoko looks up from the small cup of tea cradled in her hands to offer a small, gracious smile. What the rest of the room wasn't likely to see was the glimmering smirk hidden just behind that benign expression, as if she had a secret no one else knew about. Which, of course, she did. Several, in fact!
But before any pleasantries can be explained, there's someone right behind Datura's chair! No one else seems to have noticed her approach, but her voice is soft enough not to cause actual startlement to the kunoichi-in-disguise, the mention of her name causing her to casually turn around. Those of the Lady's entourage in the room trusted that she, as she always did, would make a fuss if she were being disturbed, and thus make no movement to expel the strange woman from the starlet's presence. One thin, blonde brow lifts.
"We've never… Ugh, must he send me more of these messengers?" Datura's voice is kept low, so that those not immediately within the vicinity wouldn't detect anything other than a pleasant conversation, as evidenced by the blonde's wane smile, which did not quite match her irritated words. "I had a very 'trying ordeal', you know, and the Lady Ryoko must have her rest if she is to recover her singing voice in time for her next performance. Sit, if you must, and deliver your message."
There's a slight pause as Datura begins to lift the cup to her lips, before a thought strikes, causing her to lower it once more and offer a dim, pleasantly indulgent smile, as if the violet-haired woman had just asked for her autograph. "Or, actually yes, if you spoke to the kitchen staff to find out if they had any sashimi or strawberries, I imagine it would speed my recovery quite hastily."
Kanami's eyes turn on the woman who has just appeared, not showing the surprise she feels. 'What an interesting technique… Or is it one? Perhaps a Bloodline Limit?' The woman is presently addressing Datura, not Kanami, so she remains silent. Especially after Datura apparently recognizes the stranger. When she is greeted, however, she does bow slightly in return. "And you as well…" From Datura's words, it seems that this is a messenger from Amuro. The exact nature of the messenger is still not evident to Kanami, thanks to lacking certain pieces of information. "Am I to assume, then, that the information I was to receive shall be from you?" Kanami asks. Though the fact that this messenger addressed 'Lady Ryoko' first, indicates that she might also have business with the singer/dancer as well.
She knew that Lady Ryoko was in fact in this particular establishment. It only took a few questions here and there to confirm that fact. The issue now was getting in to see the girl without having all of her 'security' block her way the entire way. Hopefully, the remaining members of the group would still recognize the girl as one of the Lady's personal bodyguards and that her explanation of being left behind to tend to the 'details' would persuade them enough to let her by.
Little did the tired traveler know that her target was actually right here in the same room with her. Why didn't she notice yet? Because she wasn't alerted to the girl's presence with any telltale screeching that usually took place when she was displeased with someone. Which was usually everyone. At least that's what she gathered from the little time she spent protecting the young diva.
Unable to keep her eyes to herself, curiosity besets the girl into scanning the room to see just what sort of people would frequent this inn at this time of the day.. or night as the case may be. Her view suddenly obstructed by that of the matronly woman who seems to be taking care of the customers, asking if she'd like anything. Tomoyo winces a little as she peeks into her money purse. There wasn't much left, and she had only earned a little extra for herself. "Eheheh… just a glass of juice please. If you have any. If not, milk would be fine." she says politely to the woman who smiles and nods before walking off.
With her gaze now free of obstacles, she is free to resume nosing about the room. This of course allows her to witness the abrupt appearance of the violet haired woman who pops up out of nowhere behind the seat of a blondie!? Assassin!? No… if she was, things would have already turned ugly by now. She was almost ready to leap out of her booth to help, but it seems everything was ok for now. Her heart was racing a little, not use to seeing people just appear out of nowhere. Truly the world was a vast and wonderous place! She then began to wonder if she could do that too…
The quiet of the room only served to make eavesdropping all the easier for Tomoyo as she strained her ears to pick up the civil sounding conversation from where she was. This violet haired woman, clearly a woman… filled Tomoyo with a sense of familiarity. The sort of feeling she felt while around Papa. But clearly this /wasn't/ Papa. It was a woman! Unless all this time, Papa was actually Mama?! This just perturbed Tomoyo even further. The other voice, despite it being quiet was the voice of Lady Ryoko. This made her narrow her eyes. At last, she has found her! And didn't even have to deal with guards or anything!
As if trying to play off being casual about it, Tomoyo rises from her booth and meanders closer and closer to where the trio was gathered until she positioned herself at a table that was within talking distance of where they sat and took a seat. Causing a bit of noise with the chair to make sure they heard her sitting down. When all was quiet between the three, she'd cheerfully add in her greeting. "I've finally found you, Lady Ryoko!" there was an underlying tone to it however. Like she had a bone to pick with Ryoko. Which she did. "Why'd you leave me behind? That wasn't a very nice thing to do you know." she adds in, sounding hurt. By then, the woman who took her drink order tracked her to her new spot and set down her glass of juice. "Ooh, thank you miss!" before attacking the juice as if it were her first meal in days. Days!
The Onna-Amuro-copy smiles indulgently at Datura. "I'll stand, thank you. This should not take too long. Apparently, you have been spending quite a lot… While our 'business ventures' yield a great deal of capital, there are limits to what can be afforded. It has been indicated to me that it would be >very wise< if you were to either curb your expenditures, or to bring in more than what is being sent out, via your concerts. I know that it can not be reasonably expected to accrue great wealth at this stage, when not everyone knows of the great Lady Ryoko, but when your time in the Land of Wind has ended, it would be best if you moved directly into a stage of your plan that includes making more money."
The woman glances towards Kanami and says, "I will provide you with the information you require shortly. I have one last thing for Lady Ryoko." Turning back to Datura, the Onohara woman says, "Do not worry overly about the actual planning, management, and other details portion of the concerts. That will be handled by me and some others. Just notify me — or rather the one from whom I was generated — when the Land of Wind tour is almost completed. You will have a very >special< stage ready for you to perform on once you have left the country."
The violet-haired woman then starts to turn her attention on Kanami again, but before she can speak, she hears a voice that makes her close her mouth quickly. Turning her head towards the nearby table, she opens her left eye part way. Even though her eye reacts to this greater exposure to the light as though a spotlight were being shone in her face, she manages to make out the young woman sitting a few feet away. It is, indeed, Tomoyo. Well, damn.
"What a bother," she mutters. Then louder, she says, "I will speak to you later, 'Miss'. There is something you should know as well. It concerns… Your father." Finally, she turns back to Kanami. All this turning and attentiong shifting in a body that is nearly blind in an environment this brightly lit is a bit of a headache. "Miss, the individual you are to make your delivery to moves around occasionally, but his primary base camp is marked on this map." A simple scroll poofs into existence in her hand, and then is offered to Kanami. "If he is not there when you arrive, wait until he >is< before making contact. Then proceed as planned." Waiting for confirmation from both Datura and Kanami, the woman does her best to avoid looking in Tomoyo's direction for the moment.
"'Found me'? Hasn't it been your job to watch over me this entire time? I've a mind to dock your pay for straying off like that, when we needed you most!" Datura's reply to the young Hyuuga's anguished accusation is a half-sever rebuttal, nowhere near the fit the good Lady would usually throw. She was 'on the mend' from her 'illness', after all. "I had half of our porters out looking for you, until we finally couldn't delay any longer. If you're thinking of collecting back pay, forget it. I'll not have my manager doling out money for your dalliances. Oh, how dare you put me in such a state when I'm not even yet recovered!" Even as she fans herself as if she might faint, her eyes filling with the tear of a victim, ready to spill at a moment's notice, Datura's voice becomes a bit more shrill, cuing several heads turning their way, aware that something was beginning to make the diva uncomfortable.
And when she was uncomfortable, they all tended to pay for it.
The eye-fanning and tears linger a moment longer as the Amuro-copy begins to relay the messages she was instructed to give, causing the teenaged girl to give the violet-haired woman a look normally reserved for those who were suspected of being mentally impaired. "Mm, you have to spend money to make money. And I'm not apt to reach the level I need to be at by living a pauper's lifestyle. It's my job to attract attention, not to dress as a begger." A put-upon sigh. "I'll fire the help and hire cheaper ones in their place or something."
Blue eyes narrow with suspicion and distaste as the faux-Amuro continues, the blonde cutting her a scatching glare. "It was my understanding that I had autonomy in this undertaking. I detest surprises almost as much as I do interference, yet here you are, delivering both."
Kanami accepts the offered scroll, and the explanation. She doesn't open it right now, of course, but instead just secrets it away in her loose clothing as this woman continues to lecture Datura on her spending habits. She's awfully confident in herself and her authority, it seems. When she broke off before to look towards Tomoyo, apparently recognizing her, a certain phrase had been muttered. She doesn't speak that often with Amuro, but when she does, he often uses that same phrase. It's very INTERESTING that this woman would use that same phrase. Coincidence? Possibly. Either way, she didn't comment then, and she continues to not comment now.
"Very well," is Kanami's answer, though it is offered in a deeper and huskier voice than is her natural one, as she does her 'desert-dweller-bow' with palms pressed together in front of her chest, and a bow accompanying such. Have to stay in character, after all. She straightens up and drops her hands to her sides, before beginning to head for the door of the inn.
With her 'client' now within arms reach, Tomoyo could rest easy! And hopefully Papa wouldn't find out that she messed up on part of her mission to watch over Datura… Little did she know that 'Papa' was standing right in front of her this whole time. But how was sheeeeee supposed to know that it was him?! After her little self insertion into the conversation, she glances over at the violet haired, squinty eyed lady and looks her over once. She wondered who the woman was. Possibly an agent of Papa's? That's probably it if she was talking 'business' to the other two.
Another one of those familiar pangs tugs at her on the inside, as it trying to alert the girl that something was amiss, that she was overlooking something. But whatever it was, was beyond Tomoyo's imagining. That pang followed after the near inaudible mutterings of the woman who had no name as of yet. "Oh? Oh.. alright. Wait, it concerns Papa?! Is he checking up on me? Because I'm fine! Really!" she says between long drinks of her juice until it was finished off.
Now being thoroughly distraught about whatever news she was going to hear later from this lady about Papa.. she was fidgeting with her cup non stop. Even while she was being berated by Ryoko about getting seperated from the group. "I tooold you I had to go and run an errand! And you did dock my pay, by leaving me with the hotel bill. I kept a receipt, since I expect to be payed back in full. Just because I'm your bodyguard doesn't mean I'm going to take care of your bills. I had to stay behind and work off the rest that I couldn't pay! Otherwise I'd have gotten here sooner." so really, Ryoko only had herself to blame for not having Tomoyo catch up sooner! Who knows how many of her followers lives could have been spared if she had just that one more able bodied guard to fend off bandits.
With the raising pitch of Ryoko's voice, it made Tomoyo cringe a little more as she looked around at the sound of certain now alerted individuals who were responsible for Ryoko's safety. "You know, if you start shrieking like that. You're going to injure your singing voice." she says with a frown. "And if you do that, how will you pay all your guards? Speaking of… you don't even pay me." she says, sounding suddenly distraught at this sudden realization.
Her attention drifts over to the seemingly native looking woman who sat across from Datura. She looked somehow familiar, but not enough so to make her realize just who it was she was looking at. Not use to the notion of people disguising themselves like that. "Who's your friend?" she asks Ryoko, motioning towards the Kanami in disguise. Clearly she was fooled! But again, she was drawn back to the curious woman with violet hair who seemed to be avoiding her by not looking her way… She'd stare, even though it was rude to do so, for a while as the gears turned ever so slowly. "Hrm… one of Papa's secretaries maybe…?" she muses to herself quietly.
The woman gets her confirmation from Kanami, but not from Datura. "You do not understand, apparently. You can spend money at this stage of your operation. You are in charge of the operation as a whole. But when the fame of 'Lady Ryoko' is significant enough to begin a >seperate< operation, under the watch of our mutual acquaintance, she >will< either spend less or make more money. Otherwise, there may suddenly not be any money available to her to spend. You understand now, correct?"
If the response from Datura is negatory rather than affirmative, then she stays right where she is, and suddenly that squinty left eye is no longer squinty. It would be open to normal width, and the pupil of the purple eye would no longer be purple, but appear to be made of liquid metal, reflecting Datura's own face with unnatural clarity. Accompanying that odd cosmetic change would be a sharp spike of Chakra emanating from the woman — and it would be strong enough that Tomoyo's glass on the table and any other loose items in the vicinity would begin to vibrate and jitter, gradually moving across the surfaces of tables, countertops, shelves, etc. as though there were a minor earthquake going on. Maybe the Chakra itself is not detectable by non-ninja, but there would definitely be an elevation in air pressure, and the fact that all these bottles and things are 'dancing' about in a tremor that can't be felt by the people present is definitely disturbing.
To ninja, it would be a bit like looking up and finding a tsunami is towering over you, the massive wave advancing relentlessly, with no chance of fleeing in time, nowhere to flee to that wouldn't be obliterated when the wave arrives anyway, and no forewarning that this thing was even coming until it was right there, signifying your own impending death. This is not kid-stuff. This Killing Intent infused with Chakra could stop an elderly individual's heart rather quickly, and permanently. Luckily, Datura is not elderly, nor are most of the others close enough to be affected.
Just as quickly as it may have been displayed, the Chakra would be withdrawn back into its source, and that eye would return to being a normal (though oddly-hued) eye, and close partially to keep out the light again. Then regardless of what else >anyone< may have to say, Datura, Kanami, or Tomoyo, Onna-Amuro simply turns to head outside, likely passing right by Kanami, and gesturing for Tomoyo to follow. And that would be the end of >that< pleasant conversation.