Date: September 3, 2011
The "den mother" of the Pride tells Sora her story.
"Hunting the Predator - Family"
Open Plains [Land of Wind]
The long grass of the plains rises easily 5 feet tall, and it is a truly beautiful sight with the blowing wind. The grass swirls and ripples like eddies and waves on a lakes surface as the wind blows, and the golden stalks in the sun almost glow with a good natured light. The sweet smell of the plains is adrift in the air, and many travelers will stop to rest amidst the stalks for a night.
To the south lies a rising mountain, with a barely visible narrow path beginning up its massive height. Far to the east lays a narrow path, following a small river out of the stalks of grass, and into some distant trees.
It's another day amongst the Pride, and Sora's education continues. This time, she's been assigned to assist Kinshu, the healer. Nobody knows if Sora has what it takes to become a medic herself, but there's little harm in finding out, they figure. Especially since any actual healing she attempts will be not on one of their own, but Shemri. >3
Kinshu sits in her tent and directs Sora in the grinding of herbs and roots to be used in medicine. "Grip the pestle firmly, but not too hard," she instructs. "You need strength and control, but you'll damage your ligaments if you strain to hard. Keep your thumb on top, that'll help you press it down."
Sora looks a little strained as she works with the pestle and salves. Lately, she has looked a bit strained in everything she's done. Megami is part of her, more precious than her arm, and the thought of Megami falling into danger has kept Sora from any sound sleep. Is she hungry? Is she wounded? Tired? These thoughts run again and again through her head till she wants to scream. But through it all, Sora has kept a cool head. She'd need that once they made their escape; of escaping, Sora has no doubt.
Sora is surprisingly good at mixing the ingredients, using the right touch. She says, "My father was sickly for awhile. The hospital helped him mostly, but I learned how to make a few basic salves and infusions." Not to mention the light medical attention she'd given Megami on missions. However, she shows no hint of being able to use healing chakra. "My family…I hope they're all right," she says, with unthinking concern. "Gotta wonder when I'll see 'em again."
Kinshu closes her eyes and smiles, shaking her head. "I'm sure they're fine. You're lucky, really. You were taken out in the open field, away from everybody. It's easier that way. I've seen girls who were spared when their families resisted…often I had to sing them to sleep at night for quite a while." Kinshu glances over toward Shemri, who is still lying tied to a pole. "They told me not to treat your friend yet, so that we'd have someone you'd be motivated to heal properly. Fortunately she wasn't hurt too greatly, just some nasty bruising. A simple tonic should help her heal more quickly, and we'll see how much promise you show at preparing them." Shemri lifts her head. "Hmph, is that the only reason I am being kept around? If I am to be slain, I would almost rather it be done, rather than bothering to heal me and toy with me." >.<;
Sora listens gravely to Kinshu's narrative of the kidnappings. She doesn't have much to say to that. The poor girls. She has to wonder if they were taken for who they were. And Sora was a clan head… was that good or bad for them? As yet, she hadn't revealed her status, and she knew Shemri wouldn't. But she says, "I bet my clan is looking for me. Well, besides Akira." She has to smile slightly at that. Already Akira would have done a celebratory dance and slithered closer to her position. May the brat be drowned in paperwork, if that happened.
She smiles with blinding cheerfulness at Shemri. "You? Slain? Say that again and I'll dose my experimental patient with my home remedy. The taste made my father vomit." She turns to Kinshu then, and more seriously: "But thanks for teaching me this… it's useful. You seem to be a bit of a mother y'know. More than the other ladies, how does that happen here?"
Shemri eyebrow-twitches before laying her head against the ground again. "You have a most strange way of trying to encourage people," she mutters. Kinshu picks up a bowl and pestle and starts grinding away at some herbs herself. "It was a role Tategami-sama thought that the Pride needed, I suppose," she says. "Originally, I was from a small clan that wandered near the Land of Grass. The Pride was smaller then, just started I think. They were maybe a half-dozen or so, causing trouble and building a reputation. The locals just thought they were a nuisance, so they hired my clan to deal with them. I was sent as med-nin in a team of ten to carry out the mission."
Kinshu inhales deeply. "When we found the Pride, the battle was fierce. We thought our numbers would carry us, but we underestimated the Pride, especially Tategami-sama. There were many injuries on both sides. Soon, I was the only member of my team left standing." Kinshu pours the powder from her bowl into another container. "My medical training told me I should escape. I couldn't help my team-mates by fighting, and getting hurt myself would just make things worse. But I couldn't just leave my comrades; they were my family. Then, while I was hesitating, Tategami-sama made me an offer." Kinshu smiles wanly. "Stay and treat the Pride's injuries, and I would be allowed to help my team-mates as well. How could I refuse? We all became members of the Pride that day."
"Always there for you," Sora says cheerfully to Shemri.
It's interesting listening to the Pride's early years. And Kinshu's story. Sora frowns. So a group of ten with a medic nin weren't able to tackle the Pride on equal footing. And now the Pride's strength has multiplied. Head on force won't work against this group, particularly their leader. Any rescue may even be absorbed into the lot, just as Sora and Shemri were. She glances at her comrade on the ground. Sora has a few escape plans, but none of them are valid when it comes to helping someone out. Shemri could more than carry her weight, but to coordinate their escape… Sora couldn't imagine leaving her behind. And she needs to come up with a plan that uses both their manpower to the greatest advantage. But how?
"Interesting," Sora says to Kinshu. "The Pride are almost all women. Does that mean you all ate the men on your team?" She smirks and waves that question off. "Kidding. That was a good choice of yours, I'd have done the same. But when did you try to escape afterwards?" After all, it'd be hard to keep half your numbers chained up.
Kinshu laughs softly. "It's funny you should ask those questions at the same time. No, we don't eat the men…but you might say that life in the Pride tends to eat them inside. When we were first captured, many of my team-mates, especially the men, wanted to escape. Some of them even wanted to try fighting the Pride again, but Tategami-sama made sure I treated those loyal to him before the others. Even if we had all agreed to tackle them again, we'd have been at a worse disadvantage than before. So some tried to escape, but they were always brought back. A few kept trying, and, well…eventually Tategami-sama lost patience with them."
Kinshu wipes away a tear. "Others fell in battle with other foes. Some of them became as fiercely loyal to Tategami-sama as any before the end. And now, I'm the only member of my old team left standing again." Kinshu sighs. "My old team isn't all that matters anymore, though. All of the Pride is my family now. I don't want to see any of them hurt."
Shemri processes Kinshu's story for a moment. "…Oi. That means I am like a man." =.=;
Sora surveys Kinshu with level, blue eyes. She says in a calm, even tone, "You know, if you had sided with your original comrades they might have stood a chance." Sora runs fingers through her thick hair. This is unlike her. She shouldn't be saying such rash things. But somehow Kinshu's resignation has provoked something inside of her. She doesn't want to become that way, even for the short time that she's here.
"But things aren't nearly so simple, are they?" Sora allows. She smiles. "Tell me, Kinshu. What kind of person do you think I am? Someone who will escape…and succeed? Or resign myself to my fate after a time? Or be killed after your leader loses her patience?" Her smile widens. "Or maybe the kind who won't try to escape at all, and accept my new life?"
"You've nearly reached manhood, Shemri-kun," Sora smirks.
Kinshu shrugs helplessly. "I hope it's the last one," she says quietly. "If you do succeed in escaping, you'll be the first. But what does it matter? Whether you're a part of the Pride, or some other clan, or even one of those Great Ninja Villages, a ninja's life is the same. You fight against those who aren't part of your family, and you try to protect those who are. It's selfish, but that's what we all do. I don't see any way to change it." Shemri snorts. "Our 'family' does not go about attacking helpless villages at least." e.e
So she'd be the first to escape? That's interesting. And it means it'd be more of a challenge. It'd be easy to think she was the strongest, smartest, and finest kunoichi captured. So Sora could escape. But that's not true, is it? She does have one thing though. "No way to change it?" Sora echoes. "Can't you feel it, Kinshu? Things are new. Things are young and still beginning. The villages, the generation of shinobi, the movement of this world. This is the time to make the big changes, the ones that matter. Pretty soon things will be set in stone, and all that will be left are people bitching about it, not doing anything." She's speaking with something beyond calculating persuasion; passion. "You're a healer. You tried to take care of ten shinobi. I can't even look after my hawk. It depresses me when people like you become a bully."
She actually goes to pat Kinshu on the back. "But you needn't worry. This is my dream, not yours. I've already taken a few steps towards it. This is just a little setback."
Kinshu peers at Sora warily, as though she were some tempting dish that had burned her mouth in the past. "You…you really think there could be a way?" Kinshu quickly focuses back on her herbs. "Well, it's…it's something to think about, I suppose. In the meantime, we'd better get your friend fixed up. Your powder looks about done, now we just need to mix it into a tonic and see how effective it is." Kinshu continues working on herbalism and poultices with Sora for the rest of the day.
(The tonic did the trick pretty well, but Shemri said it tasted like something Shiikaa might hork up after eating too much grass. XP)