Date: June 14, 2011
Chishio is camping. Yuri is hunting. And a monster is stalking them both.
"Hell's Kitchen, Part 1"
Forest Glade - Land of Water
There aren't a huge amount of forested areas in the Land of Water. The village of Koshiha had been near one, however, and so Chishio has come to enjoy those forested areas… things in Kirigakure had felt, strained, since she told her mother she was moving out. No longer injured, no longer patient with the constant jibes of the older woman. Chishio has struck out on her own, and, as she has no outstanding missions yet… she's decided to take some personal time.
She sees no reason to try and hide her presence, however. Seated by a campfire which is giving off smoke into the cool night, six songbirds are speared on long, thin pieces of wood, and roast over the open fire. There's not much meat on them, but Chishio seems quite happy regardless. For the first time in a long time, she is truly content. She's caught her dinner, she's made a temporary shelter, and tonight, she will sleep under the stars and reflect on her path.
It is almost like a holiday!
Songbirds? A very interesting dietary choice! However, Yuri is not much of one to critique the eating habits of others. She ate the marshmallows she roasted over the flames of her house as it was burning down with her parents inside. She was responsible for the fire in the first place, but if they had just let her have her ing marshmallows to begin with, they might still be alive right now!
So it was their fault, actually.
Yuri confirms this silently in her own head as she stands over a smoldering corpse lying in the bushes. It is badly burnt. Like 'there is no part of it not blackened and charred'. It looks like a piece of charcoal in the form of a deceased human being who, even with most details of his face lost to the fire that ate through him slowly, continues to give the impression of having been in great torment all the way to his last breath.
The Swordswoman didn't kill him. She has a Lightning Affinity, but she hasn't really tried to do the ol' 'electric chair without a wet sponge to conduct the electricity' treatment before. …Or at least not through Ninjutsu. No, this is the third such body that has been discovered so far. The first two were found by others, but she was tasked with finding out what the bleep is going on, and now here she is. This one is fresh. Still hot, even. The one responsible was probably here no too long ago.
The mother of two that has somehow kept her figure despite this fact is generally seen as a skilled, charismatic, and desireable kunoichi by many she meets -- male or female. But that's because people see what they want to see. They never even >try< to scratch the surface. Why pay attention to her face when they can look a bit below that and not get stabbed as they would by most other Kirigakure-loyal women? Men are idiots. She has confirmed this time and again. But she still finds it a bit odd that no one notices the strangely manic expressions she displays sometimes by accident when she is killing or torturing enemies. She wonders why so many trust her when she has more than once shown complete willingness to dispose of temporary allies when they are no longer useful.
But that's the nature of a sociopath: trust absolutely no one at any time. She wonders why they trust her because she suspects they don't, and they're just faking it so they can 'get' her. This paranoid conclusion had led to a great many people being 'got' before they had the chance to 'get' her. Not all of them were innocent, but most of these incidents were discrete and can not be traced back to Yuri without a lot of work and ten times that amount of sheer luck.
She's a murderer. Not just a soldier, not just an assassin, but a homicidal psychopath. If that's >not enough reason< to suspect everyone of being out to 'get' her, then she >doesn't want to know what is<. She sticks the gooey marshmallow in her mouth, tasting the mix of ash, smoke, burnt flesh, and whatever the hell marshmallows are made of. Marshes? 'Are marshmallows obtained from the Blood Marsh?' she wonders for a moment. She chews the sticky half-melted treat a bit longer, and then decides it would be hilarious if they were. This decision made, she begins giggling girlishly to herself as she turns away and begins following the tracks. The killer is still in the area.
She's still grinning and giggling randomly when she smells the newer source of fire smoke. The grins widens for a moment, and the Swordswoman's eyelids seem to peel back a bit as though her eyes were going to pop out. Instead, she gets control of herself, buries her crazy side as deeply as she can, and begins approaching the campsite carefully…
For a moment Chishio looks up. Did she just hear giggling?
… no, probably the wind.
Chishio is many things, but observant is not one of them. Indeed, though she isn't stupid, she's definitely not on the same level of intelligence as many ninja. This is part of the reason why she's been wrestling with so much philosophy lately; it is fun. Challenging. She's confident of her comparative skill with weapons, but her critical reasoning? That takes work. Hard work.
The end result, of course, is that even though she's good at /killing/ stuff (just ask the inhabitants of poor Koshiha about that), she's not very good at /finding/ it. She's completely ignorant of the approach of the sociopathic Seven Swords(wo)man. So, she carries on the same way she was intending to carry on. First, she helps herself to a little snack.
Chishio doesn't have access to the fine control over her bones that other Kaguya have; she may never learn that secret of the blood. It certainly seems a long way off, and she has no idea where she would even begin. But, for all that, she does still have bones which are notably stronger and tougher than other human beings. This is something that the sparrow she has selected as her first morsel might have been in a position to appreciate. If it wasn't for the fact that he is very, very dead.
She's not worrying about an audience, and therefore the etiquette which usually surrounds eating is put on hold. The Chuunin pops the head of the bird between her lips, and bites down hard with a noisy, nasty crunch. Pristine white teeth tug and pull, and there's the ripping of flesh and the moist, wet noises of a truly satisfying meal.
The breast is the next to go onto. Depending on the direction from which Yuri approaches, she is likely to see either the back of Chishio's form, where the noisy 'nomnomnom'ing of birdflesh is bad enough, but at least she can't visibly be making a horrible mess…
If she approaches from the front, the display of savagery as she rips into the small body of her late-night meal is … well, not to be too fine on it, gross. There's little meat on songbirds, but she's going for the bones, marrow and all. It is greasy, and really… terribly unpleasant.
Right now though? Chishio could not be happier. Just like good times.
Her 'wedge' hair style is adorables. Her eyes stil contain some of the wideness and curiosity of youth. Her tiny nose and smooth skin give her the appearance of someone just coming out of her teens, or perhaps in her early 20s… Yet she is also 'built' in such a way that most who see her know she is definitely a fully matured woman. She gives off so many conflicting impressions… Childish… Wise… Friendly… Cautious… Cute like a girl… Beautiful like a woman… And so very, very messed up in the head. She enflames passions with her words and actions… Not just 'passions' as in 'lust', but such things as fury towards enemies, loyalty towards the Village, determination to accomplish any goal… And terror in those who discover too late they should have run when they had the chance. It all depends on which side of the sewing needle one is on, really.
Right now, she is the very model of a huntress -- a predator, stalking through the darkness, watching the human-creature and her 'fire', and waiting for a chance to pounce. That is how a hypothetical observer might see it, anyway. There is no such observer, but there is definitely a sort of feline tone to the Swordswoman's movements. She has stalked close enough that she is able to lurk in a half-crouch, maneuver behind the clearly female form by the fire, and observe with pale-brown eyes as the much younger woman consumes something… Crunches… Wet smacking noises… Faint indications of quiet pleasure from some tasty treat… Her warped imagination goes through a long list of things that could be being eaten, many of them utterly repulsive. Even someone like Yuri is made queasy by some of these possibilities… And yet she still considers trying one of whatever they are when she is done. She eventually seems to settle on 'Uchiha eyeballs', because she hates those ers with the fury of a thousand super novas, and she'd love to eat one of their Sharingan. Yes, eat one. She specifically wants the Sharingan of Uchiha Fuyu. She wants to cut them out, hold them up for all of that bitch's allies to see, and then distinctly >not< plant them in her own head or anything. Instead, she wants to deposit them in her mouth, chew them up, and swallow.
She doesn't need freak-show eyes to kill things. She leaps into the air suddenly, an arcing blur -- a shadow emerging from even deeper shadows only to be lost in the darkness of the forest's branches above -- and then flicks her right wrist in a way that some seal calligraphy on the bandages there trigger, causing a small puff of smoke to erupt as a kunai appears in the palm of her hand, ready for use.
Yuri's eyes are manically wide, the capillaries pulsing red as they strain with the adrenaline rush their owner is enjoying. She throws the blade down at the girl on the log. And unless Chishio makes a truly unfortunate movement all of a sudden, the knife hits the log with a solid *THUNK* right next to the Chuunin.
Based on the angle that the kunai protrudes from the wood at, the attacker is above and behind Chishio, up in the trees! …But because Yuri threw the weapon before she completed her leap, while she was still airborne and passing >over< Chishio, it is likely that by the time the girl manages to react, let alone figure out what's going on (if she does at all), Yuri has landed on the opposite side of the camp fire, having twisted in mid-air to face the poor, innocent, camping teenager who is probably also this pyro-killer jerk.
She was >assuming< that anyone skilled enough to kill three grown men with fire in such a way that they were unable to call for help, defend themselves, or do anything else except burn, must be a very skilled ninja. She was >assuming< that a skilled ninja would react as she had predicted -- by noticing the kunai, the angle it sticks out at, and trying to defend herself from more attacks that are not going to come from the direction the weapon indicates they will come from.
Then she can stab the girl in the back or slit her throat or just take her time playing with her, and then she can try a cooked eyeball, report the murderer dealt with, and go home. Easy-peasy.
But if Chishio is really as unperceptive as all that… This might just be an over-complicated way of entering the clearing right in front of the Kaguya girl. Smooth.
She's crazy, she doesn't need to make sense. Shut up!
There's a kunai in the log.
Chishio's reactions are pretty good. Her speed is much better than her thoughts! But, more to the point, she's got her guard down. She's in the middle of her home territory, without any reason to expect any attack. This might be naive for the girl, but she genuinely isn't expecting to see an enemy. What runs through her head are several thoughts in swift succession.
1) OH MY KAMI I AM UNDER ATTACK --
2) Wait … anyone who could creep up on me should be skilled enough not to miss.
3) Distraction? Oh-- there she is. Huh. She looks kind of … intense.
4) … Oh. Oh shoot.
The reaction from the girl is probably not what Yuri was expecting. Chishio's pale red eyes look right at the elder ninja, meaningfully, and then down to the sword. There's no movement from the girl. From the moment the kunai struck the log, she's essentially been struck paralyzed. She can feel a bead of sweat form on her brow, and trickle down. This would be, deeply unfortunate as a way to die. To the perceptive, even her features have frozen, except for those eyes. Her mouth is hanging open, halfway through chewing some unfortunate songbird. After a heartbeat, she swallows.
The voice is somewhat croaky, just, raw, /fear/ quite evident in her tone. She's heard *of* Yuri. Even seen her from afar when she was a Genin, years ago. But she never had the guts to actually approach the legendary figure. There's no mistaking that sword though, especially as it is … so damned close. Oh dear. This really isn't very good. If Chishio was a more Kaguya-like-Kaguya, it is probably that she would be lunging to attack this woman who dares to intrude in her camp, legendary swordswoman or no!
But Chishio doesn't. Instead, she slowly, very carefully to show there's no animosity here, puts the skewer back over the campfire.
"A-am I in your, c-camping spot, Y-Yuri-sama? I, I did not, I do not mean to, upset you. Please, take it, I'll, go." The girl is unmistakably Kaguya in her looks at least. But where is that animal fury?! Perhaps simply cowed by a more potent predator. Or perhaps this is the other reason Chishio isn't terribly well known in the village. She's an embarrassment. A failure of a ninja. Her fighting spirit has abandoned her already, replaced by priority number one. The singular principle which has guided every action she has ever taken.
Rule One: Do Not Die.
If Yuri wants the delicious songbirds, it definitely looks like Chishio is ready to trade them, her camp, her whole lovely evening in exchange for not being skewered with the Corpse-Sewing sword. All things considered, can one really blame her?
She may not have actually >drawn< Nuibari yet… But that sheathe at her lower back, and the way she is turned so that her hand grasping the hilt of one of the few melee weapons -- and the >only< sword -- to ever be uninanimously declared a 'terror weapon' by every nation that has ever been exposed to it… There is no mistaking what it is. It looks like a giant sewing needle. Being impaled and then having one's innards pulled out one's back by the oh-so-thin wire 'threaded' through the blade's 'eye' is not, never has been, and never will be a pleasant experience. Period.
So she can't really blame this girl for being scared. She doesn't feel any sympathy, however. She is completely unable to relate to other human beings in a meaningful way on the emotional level. She can fake it. She can fake it >real good<. But she does not feel sorry for the interrupted dinner or anything else! …Though she is disappointed when she sees they are only song birds, and not eyeballs. 'Darn it,' she thinks as she schools her face, allowing the smile to slip away, her eyes to resume the normal expression of a mentally balance and human entity -- instead of whatever kind of hellish monster was born into the body of the infant Suzaku Yuri in place of a soul. She pouts a bit, clearly not happy, but also just as clearly not attacking yet. Infact…
"Aren't you a bit short to be a serial-killer?" she asks sardonically. She's suspicious of course. But that's nothing new. The tracks led directly here… But though the size and shape of the prints matched the type of leather boots often worn by women, they were deeper in the dirt, the mud, and the moss. Whomever the killer is… She is taller and weighs a >lot< more than this Kaguya-looking jailbait girl.
"Relax, sweetie," she says, squinting her eyes in a very n_n sort of manner and offering the reassuring tone and words that one picks up as a mother. "I mistook you for a murderer who is on the loose in the area and who has a penchant for burning strong men to death." She unsquints her eyes enough to give a hopefully convincing expression of regret and embrassment as one of the Seven Ninja Swords(wo)men of the Hidden Mist moves her hands away from her weapons, leaving them held out to the sides and >bows< in apology to Chishio. Many have started bleeding from the nose at such a sight in the past, but Chishio is probably not >that< sort of girl, and even if she was, recovering from the terror of almost being sewn up and added to Suzaku Yuri's taxidermy collection is likely a bit more >pressing<.
Chishio's fear doesn't leave her at the sardonic question. She doesn't know how to answer. Depending on one's point of view, she is either a loyal Chuunin to Kirigakure who had the unfortunate duty of purging a village of life… or she's a serial killer who happens to be in the employ of a ninja village. She can't answer the question.
When it becomes obvious that she's not going to be killed, Chishio relaxes immensely. She buys Yuri's act hook, line and sinker. Although strangely enough, she doesn't equate 'motherly' with her own mother. Perhaps because her mother is a cold-hearted bitch who, frankly, has shown her as much affection as a soldier shows a new recruit. Which is to say, none at all. She is almost in tears of relief, she's so glad that she's not going to wind up on the end of that sword. She's very attached to her organs. She likes them on the inside.
"Ah, please, Yuri-sama, don't bow, that, is unnecessary." She says, hurriedly. A soft blush comes to her cheeks, and she bites at her bottom lip for a moment. Before realizing how messy she must look. She mops her lips with the back of her hand, and gets up quickly.
"I, haven't seen anyone around here." She says, hurriedly. "I, do not burn people though. I'm, much more of a knife fighter." Her nervousness seems to have her babbling. Which is probably something Yuri gets quite often from the less well endowed (in martial talents!) members of the village. "Actually, I am starting to learn to use swords with my techniques. I have decided that, one day, I will become one of the Seven Swordsmen myself! Ah, if it isn't, too presumptuous of me… oh, not that I mean to imply I am even *approaching* your level, Yuri-sama. Please. Uhm…"
Flustered, embarrassed, and feeling more than a little foolish, Chishio falls to her knees, and bows her head to the ground. "I have distracted you from your mission! Ah, if I can be of any help, even if it is just as a distraction, please let me make it up to you. It would be an honor to help the magnificent Suzaku Yuri in her work."
… Yuri might have told her to relax, but the girl is functionally incapable of doing that right now. Not just because of her near death experience, but because Yuri seems so … nice! She's even apologetic and bowing! This, is a completely new experience for the girl. Even if, behind those eyes, Yuri is completely incapable of empathizing with her… Chishio is /bad/ at hiding her emotions. She's overwhelmed, her heart is still pounding hard at how close to death she'd come, and she's throwing herself headlong to try and make up for it. She desperately wants this woman's approval. Which, is, lets be honest, perhaps in the top three 'least safe' things she could be striving for here. But there it is, nevertheless.
After a few seconds, she tilts her head up a bit to peek at the Kaguya girl and ask, "You know my name already, clearly, and one who has such high aspirations is no doubt already a kunoichi of the Hidden Mist Village…" She straightens up and puts her hands on her hips as she shifts her lower jaw off to the side thoughtfully for a bit. "…Kaguya Chishio, right? I don't think I would have recognized you by face alone -- if only due to no prior meeting," she tacks on as though she were trying to avoid offending the teenager by implying she has a forgettable face. Then she continues on with, "But a fellow ninja of Kirigakure made mention of a Kaguya girl who has enough self-control and potential to be useful for something other than cannon fodder… Unlike an unfortunate number of other Kaguya who are overly eager to either prove themselves or obtain 'glory' by dying in battle."
The wife and mother tsks quietly, apparently unconcerned with offending Chishio with her opinion of the family that the girl was born into. Well, there's a bit of a difference between insulting a person and insulting an organization. And the Kaguya are not typically 'close-knit' enough to be considered one big happy family… It may be insulting to some, but it is the truth. Many die needlessly and would have it no other way. Is Chishio actually worth more than those others because she doesn't want to die?
"Ah, well. Now >I< am distracting me from my mission. If you wish to help, I'd be more than happy to accept your aid. You see, the tracks from the most recent corpse, only about a third of a mile away from here, led directly to this clearing. You are >clearly< not the perpetrator, but that just means that she is still in the general area… How long have you been camped here? And are you sure you haven't seen anyone during that time? Perhaps a woman about ten feet tall, strong enough to pin healthy and physically fit miners to the ground without much difficulty, and probably about as wide as… Hmmm…" She holds her hands slightly apart in front of her belly… And then expands them as far as her arms will stretch.
"…And walks with a stagger akin to a drunken, pregnant cow--?" Only through a mix of combat experience, training, and extreme paranoia does Yuri detect the presence that suddenly looms up behind her. Killing Intent tears through the clearing as a >very< hostile and >very< large figure blots out the few stars in the night sky that could have been seen through the gaps between branches until a moment ago. From the outline, this person is even wider than Yuri's arms could stretch, the ten-foot height is more or less accurate, and it is unclear if she or it has a head of just a mass of petrified snakes that stick out at all manner of angles from a lumpy, irregular pile of 'something-unpleasant-that-has-been-nailed-onto-the-shoulders-of-an-ogre-for-some-reason'. A pair of slits at about where eyes should be in a person's face reflect back the white, yellow, and red colors of the campfire. Yuri has a bit of a sweatdrop forming on the side of her face as she realizes her predicament, but still has a faint, tight-lipped smile frozen in place.
As the jagged teeth that protrude up from the lower jaw of this behemoth shift and grind, glinting in the flickering light, the ogre suddenly raises an arm both longer and wider than Chishio herself -- and possibly Chishio and Yuri put together! The already-large fist suddenly swells and grows, seemingly doubling its mass, and then a very deep, and yet still-somehow-identifiably female howl of fury tears forth as the horrible woman attempts to pulverize the Swordswoman.
The fist obliterates the ground, turning layers of grass, moss, mud, dirt, rock, and anything else into a wave of earth that blasts outwards in all directions, spraying the trees, possibly Chishio, and any unfortunate forest critters in the area as well. When the dust clears, there is a 20' wide crater in the ground, the woman-thing is standing at the bottom of it, and despite its depths, the scraggly brown-and-black hair on her head that had resembled snakes previously still is visibly poking up over the rim of the hole.
Yuri lands nearby Chishio, wherever she wound up. "…Well, it seems you've helped out after all! If I hadn't encountered you, I wouldn't have been able to draw this hideous forest ogre out of hiding by making it angry--Uh-oh," she interrupts herself as she apparently offends the ogress again, based on the sudden lifting of the barely-seen giant's head and a startled 'Nng!?' "I hope you're good at dodging," Yuri remarks in her very best concerned-for-the-safety-of-others voice towards Chishio. She reaches for her sword.
At first, Chishio is genuinely surprised; perhaps she had a better reputation amongst other parts of the village than she had thought? It, doesn't seem to bother her in the least that Yuri insults the vast bulk of Kaguya. She hates them. She is, in fact, vaguely prideful of the fact that she has survived being Kaguya, whilst sharing very few of the traits which Kaguya themselves are, by and large, so very proud of. "That is very kind of you to say, Yuri-sama." She begins.
Chishio shakes her head through the first part of the description. She's quite certain that she would have noticed someone like that. She's not got the keenest eyes, but she's not /blind/ either. Her shaking of her head gradually slows, becoming less and less 'no I haven't' and more and more 'what the hell is that' as the monster raises behind Yuri.
It isn't until the creature actually hits the ground that Chishio moves into motion, throwing herself to the side, in a tumbling, rolling dodge. Quite when the girl had drawn the two long, curved knives which she now wields is a mystery, but the larger chunks of debris are sliced out of the air in glittering arcs, preventing rocks and stones from cutting at her in the aftermath of the initial blow.
The sheer size of the creature…
Red eyes suddenly snap to attention, and a thin smile draws itself on Chishio's lips. "Hai, Yuri-sama!" She declares, shifting and crouching a little, as she turns her attention back to the creature. "But we'll see… if this monster can say the same!"
The girl is quick, there's no denying that. Especially for a Chuunin. She's in the air in a blur, and three of those long, sharp knives are sent hurtling down at the face of the female troll, not really intended to inflict any serious damage; just distract her; force her to pay attention to up, and, maybe, raise those meaty fists skywards and buy Yuri the opening that she needs…
And as those three glittering knives arc through the air, they slash, revealing brilliant white…
As the ending credits swell!
And the Naruto Mush: Rivalry logo pops up!
WILL YURI AND CHISHIO SURVIVE THE TROLL!? FIND OUT NEXT TIME ON EPISODE 492: YURI AND CHISHIO, RIVER TROLL RUMBLE!