Bathory (emitter), Kaede
Date: February 16, 2011
The search for a giant-sized mass-murderer begins… And the only one on Kaede's side is himself!
Warning: Contains foul language and lewdness.
"Hunt For Baasku The Butcher - …And Straight Into Hell"
Drenched Plains - Land of Rain
Rumors of Baasku the Butcher following his escape have been few. So few, infact, that only those who are truly in touch with information resources in every country on the continent have even the slightest inkling of where he is. Given the utter lack of self-control in regard to killing people that Baasku has shown in the past, possible deficiencies in intelligence, and the fact that just about anyone would remember seeing him (if the witness survived to talk about it) has given the impression to those hunting him that there is someone helping him. Someone smart, and potentially with the resources and power to not only keep Baasku hidden but also to keep him contained.
After all, a twelve-foot tall man with a giant cleaver, superhuman strength, and no compunctions about cutting up anyone and everyone he encounters is not easily controlled. Doubly so when one considers he is basically immune to most forms of attack. But finally, some information has slipped through to Kaede during his search. No one has seen Baasku, but rumors of a giant demon in the Land of Rain may be what the Seishukuni rogue is looking for. Alternately, it might be something else. There is only really one way to find out for sure, isn't there?
Which is how Kaede finds himself in the Land of Rain. It's a country north-east of the Land of Wind, north of the Land of Rivers, and west of the Land of Fire. After trekking through the Northern Deserts of the Land of Wind, the drastic difference in environment may be a bit of a shock. How a desert can exist side-by-side with a country practically drowning in constant rain fall is a mystery for the ages. Life is present here, just as with the desert, but it is of a different sort. Plants, and few noticeable animals. Even fewer human beings.
The rain is continuous. The unceasing drumming of droplets upon the mud-paddies that compose most of the terrain is almost hypnotic.
The steady beat of rain on Kaede's hood made him close his eyes for a moment, daydreaming. Not about the romantic beauty of the rain, but because of the name of the country. It reminded him of Rain. And he had no idea that Rain was actually gone. He thought that Rain maybe went under the radar somewhere, which was hard to believe, but conceivable.
There was something calming about this rain. Something hollow, a void, somewhere within him ringing out, resonating with the world that to Kaede, as he opened his eyes, looked equally hollow. Despite the droplets of rain filling up the empty space.
This place was beautiful in all it's simplicity. Barely any signs of life, as if a demon took everyone and everything away. Quiet.
Kaede had to keep it that way, he thought to himself as he walked forwards. His plan was to investigatethe sites where this demon had appeared first. From what he knew of the land, it shouldn't be that far. Maybe an hour of walk? Two? Half? He didn't know. But he was sure it was in the direction he was walking in.
There's no sign of giant footprints in the area. No savaged corpses. Just really no trace of anything. There's some birds in the area. Crows mostly. But even they stick to the sky or stay perched atop the odd boulder that protrudes from the landscape. Kaede keeps going in the same direction, though. The mud sucks at his feet wetly, accompanied by 'splorch'ing noises. He is leaving footprints of his own, but how long will it be until the rain erases those? Not long, probably. The ground is muck and mire with the occasional clump of grass only loosely connected to the earth, thanks to the soil its roots are in being very malleable.
But the rogue keeps walking. Eventually, some buildings come into sight in the distance. They don't even look like buildings at first. They just look like some odd dark shapes on the horizon. So low, uneven, and unobtrusive that they might simply be more boulder. As time passes, and distance becomes shorter, it is revealed they really >are< buildings. Just… Really, really shoddy ones. They don't appear to be either in good quality or constructed from the most sturdy materials. Mostly tin sheets for walls, with courogated plastic for roofs. Not all of them have even that. Some are more like tents. Small camping tents, not the well-made animal-skin tents used by some tribes in other lands.
No one emerges to challenge or greet Kaede. If there is anyone here they either do not know that Kaede is present or do not care to reveal that >they< are present.
What did those crows meet? Kaede liked to think that crows gather where there are corpses. Or at least some kind of carrion for them to feed. Crows were carrion birds no? Well, crows, ravens, it was all the same to Kaede.
He knew they were a bad omen.
When the buildings though came into view, Kaede was surprised to find that they actually were buildings, and not just rocks thrown around randomly. He crouched down for a moment and focused his vision in the distance, trying to discern if there is anything there. Or anyone.
After a while though, he stood up and decided to make his presence known, either to ghosts or people, he wasn't really picky. Either will give him the answer he is looking for.
Kaede's method of 'making his presence known' is not entirely noticeable. There's no one in sight. The structures may be abandoned, or there may be people inside. Most of them have doors or zippers or >some< means of keeping the habitations shut against the cold and the wind. If he want people to know he's there he's going to have to do something a bit more attention-getting than just existing in the general area.
Hey, at least no one has attacked him, right?
Right, so, these people must be shy. Or very rude. He wasn't sure which. Maybe they're scared too.
"Hey, I'm not a twelve foot demon!" He shouts out. "Now please come out and answer my questions, and I might even make your houses more comfortable to live in!" He shouts out again, hoping that it catches some attention.
If not, he has a back-up plan.
There is silence in answer at first. Then the tin 'door' to one of the salvaged-materials 'dwellings' is slid aside from within. Some middle-aged guy emerges, looking like he probably needs a shave. And a shower. And maybe some clean clothes. And maybe some >food<. He's very haggard-looking. He also looks both annoyed and confused. He squints at Kaede, then squints around the rest of the area as though expecting there to be more people with this unknown person. When it becomes apparent that it's just this one stranger, he peers at Kaede and asks, "What the hell are you yelling about? What do you want?"
"Information, old man." replies Kaede when the middle-aged man steps out. "And justice." He adds, his voice ominous. "I need to know where to find the Demon of the Land of Rain. Or a place he was at. In return, I can give you food and maybe make that house a little more rain-proof and comfortable for living in."
Kaede's intentions though were honest. He did want justice. For everyone.
The man keeps squinting at Kaede. Then he says, "I don't know of any 'Demon'. The only monsters we have around here are called >ninja<." He frowns at Kaede for awhile, regardless of how the rogue responds. Then he interrupts or simply says, "If you want information, go ask the Witch-Seer to the north. Obaba can find out anything about anyone… For a price." A high-pitched cough comes from behind him. "Obaa-san…?" a ragged little girl's voice asks. The man turns back into his hut/house and says, "She's not your grandmother. Don't call her that!"
The girl starts to say, "B-but—" but is cut off by hacking coughs that go on for >far< too long. A woman's voice says, "Shut the door! The moisture is making it worse!" The man says worriedly, "Sorry, sorry!" He then steps outside and slides the door into place behind him. Then he turns to face Kaede. "If you plan to see Obaba, make sure you are willing and able to pay whatever she asks. Otherwise she won't help you." He looks back at the hut where the coughing has finally trailed off. "…We couldn't afford her help."
It was Kaede's turn to squint at the man when the sick girl makes her presence known. Thoughts raced in Kaede's head for a minute, but they eventually made full circle back to this 'obaba'. Kaede just wanted to laugh at the man. Witch-seer, he said. Yeah, right.
"Not every ninja is a demon." Said Kaede as he turned north and continued on his way.
But what about the little girl? Kaede wondered for a moment. It sounded like she needed help. The woman said the moisture was making it worse. He shrugged. He wasn't a med-nin. There wasn't much he could do.
"Take care old man." He said, as he continued north and out of earshot from the man.
The walk north is not brief. At all. It takes about three hours of walking before Kaede reaches a lake with an actual log cabin alongside it. A much better-looking house than those shacks from before. Those were little more than wood sheds! The lake may seem odd at first… And then it will seem >even more odd< when it becomes clear the water is bright blue. Like a piece of the ocean, rather than the rain water that is full of muddy run-off, like everywhere else. The closer Kaede gets, the more surreal and clear and clean the water would be recognizable as being.
Then another oddity… Though the rain falls all around, not a single drop touches the lake's surface. The lake is not only pristine it is also utterly motionless. Then yet another odd sight comes to Kaede. There is someone kneeling down next to the lake, face down in the mud. Who is that? It appears to be a woman from the body shape. Is she injured? Dead?
Kaede walks forwards, purposefully. His gait is even as he reaches the lake and the woman lying face down in the mud. The unnatural calm of the lake didn't do anything to shake up Kaede, at least visibly. But he was suspicious. Very suspicious.
"Are you alright?" He asks. And in case the woman doesn't respond, he'd give her a bit of a 'convincing' by lightly pushing her with his foot. Maybe she's dead after all.
When Kaede asks his question, the woman immdiately sits up and turns her head. She seems surprised, or perhaps confused, but not scared. She is covered in wet mud on her forehead, cheeks, shoulders, chest, belly, back, thighs, rear, legs… Which is good, because that is basically all she appears to be wearing. She has dark-brown hair that is also thick with mud. She looks at Kaede in an annoyed fashion, seemingly unphased by her own nudity or the fact she is covered in wet dirt. "You are late," she says accusingly, with an odd sort of accent… What is that? Where is this lady from? From what parts of her are >not< covered in mud, she appears to be a sort of mix between dark-skinned and pale-skinned. She starts to rise from the mud, revealing more and more and… Uhh… >Waaaay< more details of what she looks like.
"You are a ninja!" she snaps at Kaede. "Could you not have ran?" Making an odd hand gesture, she snaps her fingers a few inches away from his face and then plants both hands on her hips as she eyes the rogue Seishukuni. How did she know he was coming? Is this the Witch-Seer? It this Obaba!? She certainly doesn't >look< like a hag or someone's grandmother!
Kaede's own eyes look a bit annoyed at the woman who apparently lacks another fundamental part of culture. Humility. But not even the snap of her fingers gets Kaede to act, his eyes just narrow down further.
"Maybe I am a ninja. Maybe not. Depends on how you define it. Cold-blooded murderer who jumps at the command of beaurocratic assholes and taunts the Nightmare is not who I am." Kaede answers and then looks the woman up and down, which was a bad idea. Cause it is finally something that makes him react. His cheeks flare up wildly with red color, heck, any more and he might start glowing in the dark. He looks away.
"I am looking for a Witch-seer who I assume is a old woman." Kaede says, intently looking at the surface of the lake. "Judging, however, by your accent, demeanor and words, I assume I either found her or her apprentice." He composes himself and looks towards the woman again, focusing on her eyes.
His own eyes were dark, black, yet tempered with a resolve enough to inspire others. But a burn mark over his left eye and cheek gives him a rather harsh visage.
"I never heard of a lake behaving like this. It's too calm. Did someone do this with Ninjutsu?"
The woman just tilts her head and squints at Kaede. "…." She does not answer him immediately. Then she says, "The 'Witch-Seer' is my grandmother. You see her? There behind you?" She indicates behind Kaede. If he turns around to look, sure enough there's some very short old woman with a head scarf and beads on her silk robes and so forth. Wait… Are these… Gypsies!? …Not that such a thing exists in this universe, but still. It would explain things if they did!
The old woman just shoves past Kaede, completely ignoring the fact she has essentially snuck up on a trained, suspicious, and dangerous shinobi rather easily, and that he might not like this. She says, "Anastia! I have told you before to wait until night to do your Earth Rituals! Now see what has happened!? You have offended this boy!" She gesticulates in Kaede's direction. Then she drops a woven basket on the grass and mud. Inside are some clothes. "Clean up and meet us inside!" 'Anastia' just says sullenly, "Yes, grandmother." Obaba turns her attention on Kaede and says, "And you! Keep your eyes from my grand-daughter or I shall pluck them out and pickle them! There are better uses for eyes like yours, Crystal Man!"
She then turns and starts waddling away towards some steps leading up to the log cabin's door. "And wipe your feet!" She wipes her own leather-slippered feet on a welcome mat at the top of the stairs and then enters the cabin.
Kaede's expression goes from surprise to icy cold calm when he turns around to indeed see a short woman. And old. How the hell did she sneak up on him?
The comment about keeping his eyes to himself just gets Kaede to say, "I wish." With such intensity in his tone and enough maliciousness to make a lesser man shiver. But the malice in that didn't come from a threat. It's as if he was saying he has seen too many things. "Wait. How did you know… Bah." It must've been the crystal bells, there is no other explanation. Logical one at least.
'Earth rituals' resonated in his head. Did they use Ninjutsu? Or were they more like that Yotsuki Raiga guy with his strange.. transformation. Or the bathand. Both had some.. strange unchakra like features about them. Visible or employed. Something was going wrong with the world. Thankfully, he didn't feel like any part of it at all.
'If she even has the nerve to ask me about payment..' he thought to himself as he followed the woman to the top of the stairs and then used the crystal style to crystallize the mud on his feet and remove it.
"Listen, woman." Kaede says after the Witch-seer. "I have no time for games or whatever you are doing here. Just tell me where I can find the 'Demon' or where he might've been and I'll be on my way." He pauses, "Furthermore, I want you to heal the little girl south from here. Failing to do that I will consider an act of inhumanity." And he didn't have to say how he considered such an act. His tone spoke volumes.
The old woman turns around and bashes the base of a cane on Kaede's right foot. "Aiyaaa! You are exactly as bossy as I remember, Crystal Man! Your posturing will have to wait! There are more immediate issues that require our attention. First, I must explain to you why you are here.—I know, I know!" she waves her hands and yells before Kaede can even interject. "You >assume< you know why you are here. That is >exactly< the problem! You have been brought here because you are susceptible to suggestion. And before you go up against the The Butcher, you had best put out of your mind all assumptions. The Butcher was once a man." She turns and grabs a bag of some kind of powder. She then casts it into an incense burner. A flash of green light and dense, emerald smoke results from the introduction of powder to the flame.
"But he is no man anymore. He is no man, I say! If you try to fight him now, you will die. Look into the smoke, Crystal Man. You are about to descend into Hell itself. And there you will learn your enemy's secret weakness…"