Kiri vs. Konoha: This is diplomacy?


Taiki, Amiko, Etsu, Yoma, Sakuryu, Takeshi

Date: August 20, 2013


A heated debate over the fate of Shirayuki Katsurou Closed meeting, you don't know it if you weren't there or reported to.

Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.

"Kiri vs. Konoha: This is diplomacy?"

Lookout tower, Land of Waves

The Land of Waves. The first territory that saw major shinobi warfare after the great villages were formed and the era of "peace" began. A fitting place for such a disagreement to be settled, though the Daimyo of the land was certainly wary of it. He knew what Shinobi could do to his land if things got out of hand. However, with the exams going on, and the world watching politics closely, the Land of Waves acting as a neutral arbitrator was something that helped them in the grand scheme of things, and thus he agreed to the meeting.

Still, he had them essentially in a fort in the middle of no where. It was more an observation post than anything, inland a bit, but still able to see the sea and check for any illegal activity off the coast or abnormal weather cells. And today, it was brisk and windy with a bit of sporadic rain that hit the stone building in heavy sheets and then suddenly stopped every now and then. Inside of the tower were a few rooms, but the biggest was one below the surface. It was a bunker incase of tsunami or hurricans tearing through the area. In this rather dimly lit, dank location, the future of two villages would be discussed.

As per the terms, each vilalge was allowed to bring five guards with them in order to have proper protection in such a meeting. It was a bit much, but this was a matter of great contention. There was a rectangular table in the center of the room made of stone with a full oval stone bench around it. There was a bit of catered food and refreshments however, so it wasn't entirely without some sort of class.

Yoma would enter the room with the guard escort, Takeshi and Sakuryu coming in with hims as well. Serious was the definition of his gaze, and he would stand on one side of the table, waiting for Konoha's representatives to come in as well. He looked towards Sakuryu, to see if she was prepared for something like this, but only briefly before returning his gaze towards the other party to arrive.

Takeshi is..well Takeshi. He might as well either be ignorant of the tension in the air or just not care about it. Either way, Moving in past Yoma he finds a seat, the cane ticking against the stone floor. Sitting, a bottle of sake is produced from the inside of his robes as he slams it down on the table. "Right, Can't have a good discussion without Sake." Of them all, his gaze appears the least concerned.

Meruin is present and attentive, the mists of his eyes a slow swirling mixture of red and and purples. He entered before the ensemble of shinobi that he is here to protect, gaze flickering to every corner, the ceiling, and searching for any places for proper hiding as well as searching for premier places for attempts at assassination. There was only one shinobi sent from Konohagakure who was notably affluent. A lack of commitment compared to the Swordsman, the Kage's Aide and once Elder, and the Shirayuki Princess Kirigakure provided. So he was wary for attempts on everyone's lives and displeased that they were the first to enter this underground bunker. But he found no traps to begin with. And could not, as of yet, discern the secret passages and boltholes that had to be within the room. So he was still and silent, in his post on the wall at Kirigakure's back, doing his job of surveillance.

Sakuryu enters wearing her formal attire at this location. Many may have seen her in the pirate attire lately and thought of her as a rapscallion but for such an event she has donned a silk Kimono with printed flowers and snow flakes in a light blue. She enters quietly and finds a proper place to sit, letting out a breath as she keeps the regal and stoic demeanor needed for such things. This was the time to test her noble upbringing for sure.

Amiko enters the room ahead of the rest of the delegation. She was less a representative of Konoha, and more the ambassador for Uzushiogakure in these negotiations. The girl knew only a little about the negotiators from Kirigakure, and so as she enters the room, the girl keeps her eyes on the other shinobi. If anything went wrong, she wanted to be the first to be able to react. "Hello everyone," she says as she sits at the table, putting a friendly smile on her face as she addresses Sakuryu, Meruin, Yoma and Takeshi.

The Konoha contingent arrives shortly after the Kiri contingent does. Taiki walks in with his two ninken, both very large dogs. Taiki is wearing his finer garments, the ones that denote him as a clan head, obviously of the Inuzuka clan. Despite rather wild-looking body features all Inuzuka share, the young man is formal and, at least initially quiet. His hands are down by his sides until he reaches the table, but the ninken are instantly sniffing the air for possible threats. Even if the red-furred dog is wearing a medic-nin vest, they seem both battle seasoned.

Taiki reaches the table and stands behind the chair, grabbing the back of it easily and calmly. His ninken bracket him on either side, but they both sit down. They have no need to continue standing unless there's an attack, and they both are tall enough to see over the table rather easily. In the meantime, Taiki looks over each person present, including Meruin, then nods to Yoma as the obvious leader of the Kiri representatives. "Hello," he says clearly and succinctly.

Etsu wore different clothes for this occasion. Still Aburame, yet changed to be more formal. She adorned a lightly decorated white coat with a grey cloth with yellow stripe acting as her hood. It was functional attire as it helped to defend against the intermittent rain present in the Land of Waves. Luckily, negotiations wouldn't be taking place outside, but in closed quarters with Kirigakure. She isn't sure of what to make of it all, but all this is pushed aside in favor of being more focused. Focused on things such as danger, but her insects could take care of that. "Salutations," was offered by Etsu to the Kiri officials pertaining to this meeting.

"Remove your mutts from the table. We are not here to feed your dogs scraps nor am I entertained by their presence. If they are here as protection, have them move back with the other guards. Other wise, remove them from this chamber, or it will be seen as an act of aggression." Yoma stated with a thunderously low, rumblnig voice. He obviously wasn't intent to greet them any more formally than that. Once the situation is handled inw hat ever way Taiki prefers, Yoma would say, "Let us get down to business, then. You have one of our shinobi, one of particular talents and blood. You are very much aware that such acts between villages are expressly forbidden, and your own village practices the extermination of those of certain bloodlines should they leave the village without permission. So my first question is, what right does Konohagakure have to keep Katsurou from the justice of Kirigakure?"

Takeshi pauses as he lifts the cup to his lips when the bellowing begins, cringing slightly. Once over the cup is continued on its path and it gets drained. It's a very small cup. When the yelling is done however and before answers are given, there's a nod towards Taiki. "Taiki. Would it be better circumstances for our reunion, but I suppose old men like us don't get to pick our terms do we?" Then a nod to the other two, "Before any of that business, Just so that we're all familiar. I am Odori Kaguya Takeshi, Retired Jounin of Kirigakure, Kage's Aide, Former leader of the ANBU forces within Kirigakure, Former Justice for the Hunter Nin Department, Teacher for the Shinobi Academy and Clan Elder for the Kaguya Clan. Now since Yoma wants to ask the questions, you can go ahead and start answering them." Lifting the cup up after a refill he sips on it again.

Sakuryu sips her tea softly, sitting regally as the others speak awaiting her turn before slowly opening her eyes. "I am Shirayuki Sakuryu, First daughter of the current snow prince, head of the Shirayuki family, and representative of the clan Shirayuki to this meeting. As the other representative has stated you have Katsurou who has inherited the Shirayuki kekkei-genkai, a long held secret and signature feature of our noble clan. We believe that he should be returned to Kirigakure immediately as would be done by your ensemble or ANBU squad in the cases of your noble houses Kekkei-Genkai holders." She bows her head being very calm and collected during her almost pre-rehearsed statement.

Meruin did his duty. Still and quiet, the silent sentinel, watching as the Konohagakure people all entered and made their own entrances. He met Taiki's gaze in the same manner it was given to him, letting it pass without action. He did shift his gaze to Takeshi, however, once he started listing off information that may have been better off going unsaid. He felt safe in doing so, the pupiless nature of his eyes hiding their motion. Soon, though, he returned his ocular attention to it's scanning of the room and it's occupants.

Amiko listens intently to the objections made by the Kiri-nin, nodding her head appropriately along the way. ~These guys are so stuck up~ she thinks to herself, then glances to Takeshi and mentally adds, ~Except the grandpa. He seems kinda cool.~ With a sigh, she says, "I don't believe for a second that you'd actually hand over a potential advantage." Its calm, and said in a friendly tone. She'd experienced first-hand the ruthlessness of Kirigakure, and didn't trust the dignitaries for a second. "I'm Uzumaki Amiko, representative for Uzushiogakure and Konoha's allied lands. My main concern here is that Shirayuki-san has already fled the Land of Water, and has requested protection. For any of the lands in our alliance to turn down such protection raises a huge humanitarian concern," she explains, looking between the faces of the other diplomatic party, trying to find any hint of sympathy.

Taiki arches a brow at Yoma's opening remark, and forms a deep frown on his face. "You begin negotiations with an insult to me and my clan, as well as to individual members of my clan?" he counters with a hoarse voice that seems like his normal voice. A snarl forms on both dog's faces, though they both look at Taiki for instructions. "To the Inuzuka, they are /not/ mutts, or tools. They are valued members of our clan. You insult them, you unsult us. Therefore, if you continue with these insults, then I will see that as an act of aggression from you. Are you sure you want to start off on this footing?" Taiki's tone is measured, matching aggression for aggression as he looks up into Yoma's eyes. There is no fear there, rather deep insult and preparedness. It's obvious he is not going to escalate matters, but he is not prepared to roll over either.

After a moment of staring into the man's eyes to ensure that Taiki's meaning is clear, he gives a single gesture that causes the ninken to take exactly /one/ step back before re-seating themselves. Taiki then looks over toward Takeshi and nods his head. "Takeshi-san, I can't say, under the circumstances, it is a pleasure, but I give greetings anyway." Taiki's tone as he addresses Takeshi is one of respect, easily showing that with Taiki, you get what you give. He then looks around the table and says, "I am Inuzuka Taiki, Clan Alpha of the Inuzuka, Jounin of Konohagakure, Senior Medic Nin, and Leader of Team Eye of the Storm. These are my partners, Shinobu and Nozomi." As he introduces them he motions to the larger white one on the right as Shinobu and the smaller red one on the left as Nozomi.

Introductions out of the way, Taiki turns back to Yoma, glances toward Sakuryu and then says, "Shirayuki Katsurou-san has asked for asylum from Konoha, as he believes his life is in danger from your village," he moves his eyes over toward Sakuryu for a moment without pausing, "and your clan. After interrogation, we have discovered that he has committed no crimes against either the village or the clan that would cause his life to be in danger before he left. We did not take any actions to recruit him before he left, or even after until he showed up in Konohagakure. So, other than leaving his clan and village, I ask you, what did he do to feel so threatened he had to leave? Because the way I see it, every village, even your own, will adopt wandering ninja /regardless of clan/ so long as they don't prove a danger to he village and haven't committed any crimes."

Already, things are getting off to a bad start. Calling Inuzuka companions mutts is problematic. Such is to be expected for those that can be considered…uncouth. An act of aggression? Ignorance. She decides to partake in some tea as she listens for now. When she's done sipping the tea, she sets the cup down and introduces herself. "Aburame Etsu, Chuunin of Konoha and representative." She cast her sights on Sakuryu as she explained Katsurou's significance. He was a Shirayuki after all.

She sipped at her tea once more. "I find the accusation against our village to be false. It is as Taiki states. The research conducted into Katsurou-san reveals nothing regarding a criminal act. However, concerns are noted and understood from your perspective Sakuryu-san." She didn't bother addressing Yoma. She feels he's already done enough damage and this meeting isn't even off the ground yet.

Yoma would not be impressed by the words stated by the opposition, but he did note that Sakuryu was handling herself well so far. "And should a Hyuuga decide to ask for asylum in Kirigakure, I am to believe that the Hyuuga clan would simply allow it? A branch member, as I believe you would call your subserviant Hyuuga class would be killed by their own clan before allowing that to happen, simply because of their blood and not wanting it to get out of their clan's control. Do not lecture me on humanitarian issues, the Shinobi world works by it's own rules, and protects it's own from such things in the ways each individual village and clan decides is best."

Yoma gazed at all of them across the table and said, "I am Kaguya Yoma of the Seven Swordsman, and I don't give a parliament about what you think is right. It is not your call to make how we handle our people, just as it is not our call how you handle your own, Uzumaki Amiko." His eyes would dart to Taiki as he would speak of an insult to his clan, and Yoma would simply reply, "Perhaps if you want your clan to be respected, you should start by respecting ours. That is why we are here, Konoha's blatant disrespect to Kirigakure and our clans. So if you feel insulted, good… now you have a taste of what you have done to my entire village. You are lucky that I am slowing my pace down to meet the level of Konoha, instead of raising it to the level of Kirigakure's responses, Inuzuka Taiki. However, Inuzuka Shinobu and Inuzuka Nozomi, respect this meeting as representatives of your village and your clan. We agreed on three representatives a piece. There is no excuse for acting as if that was not clear. We do not have our… partners… with us at this table, now do we?"

And on to the matter put up to Sakuryu, Yoma replied once more before she had the chance, "It is not any of Konoha's business what he did that causes Kirigakure to take action against him. He is not a wandering ninja, he is a missing shinobi. He did not quit, he ran away. He is a fugitive, and we do not have to make excuses for him that you understand nor agree with, just as you do not have to for your own shinobi. Surely you know the difference between a missing-nin and a wanderer, given all of your titles and accolades." He asked Taiki pointedly.

Takeshi sips the sake and refills the cup slowly, listening to everyone speaking in turn. Sipping another cup he leans back in his chair as the flood of introductions and words wash over them. Finishing this cup of sake he goes to refill his cup calmly, quietly, watching the reactions. "Let's not pretend that Kirigakure is somehow guilty of more crimes than Konohagakure. If a Senju, Uchiha or Hyuuga ran away and entered our village seeking asylum, you wouldn't ask for them back, you would simply kill them. The Hyuuga would lose its eyes to protect their clan, the Senju would be hunted, the Uchiha would die because of the ritual seals on their body. Let's not pretend that your secret police doesn't exist or that you don't have ANBU or that I wasn't in a cell surrounded by hunter shinobi all those years ago. I am old, not forgetful. Spare me the humanitarian act. If he is kept, Hashiramako won't always be in charge. It is fairly common for foreign shinobi to be experimented on in an attempt to recreate their particular bloodline ability. Let's not pretend you don't do that. We're all killers here. Shinobi exist for one reason: They are tools of carnage."

Finishing off another cup of sake more is poured, "That being said, you have one of ours. You know you can't have him. If it had been the other way around, such as an Inuzuka, you would be here telling us to hand them over. So let's not pretend, for the final time, that any of us are somehow whiter than anyone else."

Sakuryu looks at them all "It is not in the matters of Konoha to keep a member of our clan that inherits our Kekkei-Genkai, and knows our secrets. As Kaguya-San has stated, If a Hyuuga left to our village for asylum. Would we not expect Anbu and action from the clan heads if Konoha did not recover him?" She lets the question hang before looking to the Inuzuka. "And if an Inuzuka were to come to us and ask Asylum to train the wolves and dogs of Kirigakure and raise a family which inherited your secrets what would your case of action be?" She lets it hang before she takes a breath. "It is not a choice of Konohagakure to keep or release Katsurou, as you said he is not being charged with a crime thus cannot be held for asylum, he is currently a defecting Ninja breeching the contract of his village and bringing secrets to an outside village. It is a manner of Kirigakure and the Shirayuki clan and while I cannot make any outright notices or commands I can assure you that someone holding the secrets of our clan and village cannot be kept from their indescretions for long and without bloodshed." She bows her head respectfully, each word chosen carefully as she keeps a calm attituude and entreats everyone as a proper member of the council. "Let us not tarry here and cause strife in the times of peace and villages gathering for the exams. Let us come to an agreement here and now so that we may return for the festivities, for peace, and for the future of the lands as a whole.

Threat filled the air, tangible and heavy against the chance.

Okumo Meruin's eyes widened slightly, head shifting to turn his attention to Taiki, even as a few spiders trickled onto his shoulders to allow him continued vigilance with the room at large. Still, he was silent. As of yet, he made no action. But a blackness began to spread across his features. A sheenless chitin as dark as the abyss, and it whispered that while he did not act he was prepared for action.

But things settled… People backed down and that chitin stopped halfway across his face, leaving him looking half possessed, part dark and part pale. Conversation continued and he listened to the Konohagakure side saying that Katsurou did nothing but commit the treason of abandoning his village. Listen to Kirigakure say that the Shirayuki is theirs by right, and in reversed roles, things would be little different. And he stood by. And he watched. And he thought. And he said nothing.

Amiko glares at the various representatives from Kirigakure, her expression darkening. "Maybe you should actually listen for a minute instead of shooting off your mouths. I am not a Konoha shinobi. I am the representative of Uzushiogakure. The concerns of individual clans from Konoha are not in my purview, nor are the past actions of Konohagakure. I'm here as the representative of a village that doesn't practice such barbaric actions - as you might well know the Uzumaki are spread across the world after Shinobi wars destroyed half our country. So don't act as if my humanitarian concerns are false," she says, trying to restrain the anger from her voice. With a sigh, the girl takes a sip of water from her glass, then another sigh before she continues speaking. "So, protecting the life of a shinobi who has defected is important, both to me personally and to Uzushiogakure. It sets a standard that moves the shinobi world toward peace, rather than more bloodshed."

The first words from the Inuzuka side doesn't come from Taiki, but from Shinobu who speaks human in a voice that can only be called hoarse because it comes from a dog's vocal chords. "Respect is given when it is earned, Kaguya Yoma. So far you have shown us none so we responded to you the way you have to us. So we say, do not pretend that we are showing disrespect to these proceedings when you initiated the conflict."

Nozomi nods once and opens her mouth to speak, but Taiki shakes his head and holds his hands out flat to stop them both. "They have points, and that you make yours that it was your intention to give us "a taste of what you feel" only enforces theres. And there are three representatives here, myself, Uzumaki-san, and Aburame-san. My partners are here primarily as guards, just as you have your own here. So again, you cannot claim diplomitic high ground from numbers alone. I will, however, recognize that you have a point that they should not be at this table. And now that my points have been stated, I will move them back further. But unless and until your guard leaves the room, they will not either. They will not respond unless further acts of aggression are observed." With that, the dogs move back away from the table.

Taiki looks at Takeshi and bows his head. "I never said we were better, or that we don't have our own atrocities. You will never hear those words come from these lips." Those words were said with such conviction that it could be taken as fact. "That said, allow me to clear up another point. You're right, if it were an Inuzuka, or Hyuuga, or whatever, we would be making protests of our own. However, it would not surprise me to have you, meaning the representatives of your village, standing there and refusing us without certain assurances and proof of your claims. And yes, while we would in fact send our specialized groups after the defectors, if said clan member was attacked in your village, I have no doubt your ANBU or even your Swordsmen would kill them, if for no other reason than performing an unauthorized mission in our village. Therefore, I will ask you to stop with the pretenses that you wouldn't take similar actions to us. And yes, for the record, I would not be very happy either if one of my Inuzuka showed up in Kiri asking for asylum. But I /would/ provide proof that he was in danger for a specific reason, something that would not make it in your village's best interests to keep him or her. In other words, were the situations reversed, I would provide answers to the same questions I raised earlier." He then looks to Sakuryu and says, "Fear for one's life is a valid reason to seek Asylum. I stated before it was on that basis it was granted. While I personally did not hear the reasons given for this fear, the interrogators believed him when he said his defection was not the reason he feared for his life."

Etsu finished off her tea and began pouring herself another cup. "It feels as if we are talking past one another. It has been established that fear was not a reason for defection, so it must mean something else. Whatever the case may be, the individual being spoken of here defected of his own accord, it seems. Konoha provided him a place to rest and leaving does not seem to be an option of his 'else, he'd have done so, I imagine. This becomes a matter, truly, of what he wishes to do." She looked at her tea and up to the rest of the people here. "And the weight of two villages is upon him."

Yoma seemed to listen heavily to what Amiko had to say after Kirigakure's representatives would have a concensus on the matter. There was no excuse from Konoha, even despite what Amiko was saying, but that doesn't mean there are only two solutions to this problems: Katsurou or war. He narrowed his gaze a bit before scanning all of those representing Konoha or at the very least, the issues of the defector. Yoma would then finally say, "Kirigakure accounts for every shinobi and bloodline in the village equally. We do not let our clans be the only deciding factor in how things are handled with them outside of the village. Only internally does a clan's personal desires truly hold weight."

Looking towards Taiki again, Yoma shook his head, "You are making a lot of assumptions. As I stated before, we do not require proof, nor do you require any to have claim over your shinobi. Maybe you hold that expectation, but we do not. Kirigakure is not run by excuses and heart felt reasonings or even due process of evidence. If the Mizukage told me to kill off the Okumo, then my only choices are to obey him, or disobey him. There is no middle ground in Kirigakure. There is no middle ground in this situation with Kirigakure's shinobi. It is… irrelevant that you would provide evidence. Fear for one's life is not a valid reason for treason in Kirigakure, where we seek to eliminate fear of such things from day one. Other villages seek to preserve life and liberty and choice, Kirigakure does not. You cannot use /your/ way of life to supercede /our/ way of life when it is convinient for you to do so… or you are asking for war."

Yoma would claps his fingers together and stare at all of those representing … humanitarian rights… to Kirigakure. "However… all of that said… if Konoha is truly interested in preserving all life that has not done anything wrong by their own measure, given that this is the Chuunin Exams and we are to attempt peace over war at least during this time, I have an offer. /One/ offer. If Shirayuki Katsurou is so important to Konoha and their views of humanitarian peace efforts, then Konoha will have to pay the price for peace. You will admitt to the atrocities and war crimes that your village has commited against Kirigakure, publically, during the final rounds of the exams for all of the shinobi world to hear, including this violation of Kirigakure's cultural and political stand on fugitive shinobi. And you will apologize for them."

Yoma would pull out a file and begin to read off of it matter of factly, "You will admitt to and apologize for kill 27 guardsmen at an outpost within the Land of Waves due to a team ran by a… Uchiha Satoru. You will admitt and apologize for taking that failed mission as a reason or incentive to attack Kirigakure shinobi as they fought against Kumogakure's invasion fleet in that conflict as we were contractually obligated to do. You will admitt that relations between Kirigakure and Konoha being hostile is, in fact, your own faults due to these and other reasons surrounding these, and that all conflicts after the fact come from the lingering resentment of the slaughter at that outpost simply because Konoha was too curious and self righteous to not stick their nose in to our business."

Yoma would flip through the papers and continue, "You will admitt to harboring a Kirigakure fugitive, after multiple attempts by our shinobi to retrieve him, as well as being made verbally aware that that was our intention, and that I specifically asked to see the Hokage about the issue, and was denied entrance to your village, as well as told by a patrolman that I spoke to whom goes by the name of… Satonezu Ataru that he had no idea of the existence of any Kirigakure shinobi in Konoha at the time. Given that he is one that patrols your borders, you will either admitt to the incompetence of your village leadership, or the lies you told me when this situation was approached peacefully." Putting the documentation away, Yoma would gaze heavily upon all of those representing the other side of the conflict by saying, "And then, after you are done apologizing profusely and admitting your crimes against our village and country, you will thank Kirigakure for the allowing you the opportunity for peace instead of war."

With a slight glance towards Etsu, Yoma would shake his head, "Shirayuki Katsurou has been inducted in to your village. Your government did not at all contact our own about him, you simply took his word and your lack of evidence that it was appropriate for you to do what ever you wish with our shinobi. What was his choice, was to become a Shinobi of Kirigakure, and to abide by /all/ of it's tenants and rules. And he is in violation of them. It is not Konoha's decision to do anything about that. His decision to run away from his village, regardless of the reason, was also his choice."

Takeshi leans back in his chair, "Well, Yoma has pretty much ended that discussion, but I will respond to some things. Firstly, Taiki, you made two mistakes in your understanding of our culture. If, if, an Uchiha or Hyuuga came to us to seek Asylum, it would only be because you didn't know about it yet. If you did know about it, he would already be dead. Secondly, even if he did make it to us to ask for Asylum, the only Asylum he would find is the cold edge of a knife as we attempt to recreate their bloodline's secrets. So if you were to come to us and ask for him back, we would say, rightly, and truthfully, 'He's already dead.' Then, you would be given his body once our experimentation was finished. Again though, this all supposes on one of yours reaching us. And if, in the case of an Inuzuka, he made to Kirigakure and asked for refuge, not only would he be subjected to the same training and indoctrination as any of our genin, but he would be brought to the edge of death multiple times. Him and his companion. There has only been one shinobi that has managed to survive all of these trials and tribulations and gain a proper place in Kirigakure, only one, and he came from Kumogakure and we did not welcome him, but neither did Kumogakure come to get him. That young man bled tears of blood for years before he was accepted and only begrudingly after seeing his perseverance did I offer him a place in Kirigakure through my own family. Because, you see, Kirigakure is a family. You are either born to it or you aren't. There is never going to be an equal situation between us."

Though to Amiko he turns next, "Then why are you here Uzumaki? This is a meeting between Kirigakure and Konohagakure over a diplomatic treatise. It has nothing to do with your lands or your rights. If you aren't here to represent Konohagakure, shut up and let the superiors talk."

Back to Etsu, "No, this becomes an issue of you harboring our criminals. There is no way around these facts. He is wanted in Kirigakure, he has an entry in our bingobook. It isn't as if you were unaware. Regardless of your talk of humanitarianism, it's not your job to push your views on us. And I wonder how long you can play humanitarian before someone wants to dissect him. I wonder. How strong is your resolve? How strong will the resolve of your people be if a war is started over a man not even born in your lands? Especially while you still reel from the last war with us." And sake is drained as he pours another cup.

The pale skinned girl closes her eyes before reaching into her robes to pull out birth records with the Shirayuki official seal. "Documents signed by my father, the current Snow prince. Head of the Shirayuki clan, in legal matters *owner* of our Kekkei genkai and all who would know it. Head of the Shirayuki ninja of the village that we are allied with Kirigakure. In this situation, at this time Konohagakure is violating treaties, agreements, and is in fact breaking laws of theft, espionage, and harboring an S ranked fugitive. Merely the act of making him a ninja of the hidden leaf was a gross violation and an insult to the land of mist and our clan. He holds secrets in his blood, mind and body. Even if you do not use medical ninja to surgically remove his kekkeigenkai he still has the potential to give it to those not affiliated with our clan and share secrets of the hidden mist. We demand him back or Konoha will have notice brought against it for this heinous and most atrocious crime by the Shirayuki to the Kirikage. And if our demands are not met we will have our hand forced to unspecified means at this point that could accelerate to leaving Kirigakure and assaulting the Hidden leaf with our own ninja of Hunter and S rank." She bows her head. "As a genin myself I ask that you circumvent this matter and hand over my cousin. We can assure that he will not be killed by the hidden mist as such an act would be against the clan Shirayuki. Though what we do as a clan is of course a secret and shall not be shared by those not of the blood."

Yoma would shoot Sakuryu a glance as he'd say, "You are correct, you are a genin. Your documentation is valid for the way your clan operates, however, as I have stated, this is a village matter now, not merely a clan matter. You cannot guarantee anything about his fate, nor are we offering any assurances to Konoha beyond our demand. And I have offered them a way that they may just keep your blood for awhile longer. He had forfeited the protection of the Shirayuki by leaving the village. Keep this in mind, hime."

Amiko shakes her head in disbelief and says, "Just because you have paperwork, and your own culture and rules, and the gall to say that we are trying to enforce our beliefs on you, doesn't give you any right in this situation. You see, other lands have their own cultures too. Your passive aggressive insistence that us sticking to our convictions is somehow an enforcement of our convictions on you is absurd. What is considered a crime in Kirigakure is considered lawful self-preservation in many other states. While you may think we are claiming to be better than you, you are doing exactly the same thing by insisting that we hand over someone under our protection. And surely you realise that there are far more stakeholders in this summit than simply Konoha and Kiri. If you go to war, all the lands pay for it. They deserve representation at this meeting as well, especially those allied with Konoha." She makes eye contact with each member of the diplomatic party, almost daring them to object.

Taiki closes his eyes for a moment and thinks things through. On one hand, he cannot justify the killing of thousands of people over one person and one bloodline. On the other hand, such an apology is something he believes his Hokage would not do. Yet the Hokage's declaration is clear on this matter, as it was made publicly throughout Konoha. Finally he opens his eyes and surprisingly doesn't answer Yoma first, but Sakuryu, "First of all, let me state this clearly. Any force attacking Konohagakure, regardless of source, will be subject to death. No exceptions. The only thing you would do by divorcing yourself from your village to perform such an action is to ensure your clan's destruction. So that last statement of yours has very little bearing on what I'm about to say next."

Taiki then looks to Takeshi and nods. "You're right. I was attributing Konoha's values onto Kiri, a mistake I won't make again, of that you can be well assured." He then shakes his head and looks to Yoma for a moment, his eyes scrutinizing the man carefully. "You know, ever since we've arrived here there's been threat after threat, as if you expect Konohagakure to just bow down to the might of Kiri. While I'm not aware of the incident you're talking about, it would seem as if you came here wanting war to begin with, something that the past two wars we have had with your country and village have shown us to be the case. That two of the three of you sit here and continue to spout threat after threat only proves my point."

Taiki stands up and pushes the chair away. "I will take this to Hokage with my recommendation, my /heavy/ recommendation, that the apology be tendered for most of what you have stated. What I will not recommend she apologize for is keeping secrets from the rank and file of the shinobi forces. Because that is part of the entire basis that /every/ village does business on. Not every shinobi in a village knows every detail of everything. So your accusations there are foundless, and should be even in your eyes. /BUT/, if I do this, then we want Kiri's apologies for starting the last two wars. You were the aggressors in both, as you have been the aggressors now. It is only right that you pay for your aggression toward us and your insistence that we adopt your policies."

"Uzumaki Amiko. Shirayuki Katsurou should have never been in their custody in the first place. Hiding behind it now, is merely an excuse. You cannot justify the actions of Konohagakure by saying "It is already done, deal with it." and expect that to be an acceptable answer. We are in the right, upon the agreements between the shinobi nations and how they handle their shinobi. It is part of the accord that /keeps/ the peace. And you are all just fine breaking it when it is to your own benefit. You would rather that he and everyone else you know dies in a war, than simply follow the agreements of our villages to not meddle in the affairs of other villages. To not dictate their practices when it comes to their own people. I am surprised at how short sighted Konoha is… but then again… I suppose sacrificing thousands over idealistic nonsense is what your village prefers in the name of being humane. That explains Konoha's recent civil war…and why the majority of your country's population is entirely dissatisfied with your leadership."

Yoma would stand from the meeting table and simply shake his head. "To think, that during a gathering of villages for peace and understanding, Konoha would choose war. The birth place of peace is a fraud. The famed "Will of Fire" is merely a pyre of self righteous sacrifice. And we are called barbarians? Perhaps we are… and you will soon see what that truly means. Barbarians don't negoatiate. They take. They raid. They pillage. They rape. And they destroy. If you want to know what barbarism is…" Yoma would grin deeply, "You have just invited them. And when we leave this building, there will be no more talk."

And then… a voice of reason is heard as Taiki would submit to a heavy recommendation on the part of the very public apology. Yoma would pause his leaving as he listened to what Taiki had to say on all points prior, and this one in particular before he would look Taiki dead in the eye like a proud predator sizing the man up as equal or prey; There was no other measure. "Kirigakure /is/ war. Kirigakure is blood. Kirigakure is survival. But even we recognize that times must change. If you are foolish enough to blame a tiger for growling at you, then perhaps you are also foolish enough to blame it for killing as you casually walk over and pet it instead of taking the time to allow it to get accustomed to you and your ways. /IF/ Konoha is serious about apologizing for their role in our mutual bad blood, in our very, very good reasons for starting wars as is our nature to our enemies instead lf hiding behind the one sided barrier of idealogy that we do not share, then Kirigakure is ready not to start a third war because of your utter lack of respect for how we live and thrive. And no, there will be no apology from Kirigakure. You have one of our shinobi. An apology is an extremely small price to pay to have one of the Shirayuki. We will not pay extra because of your wounded pride. I will however agree not to press the issue of Ataru, as he is a warrior of strength and thus his ignorance of such things is forgiven. I chose not to kill or cripple him specifically to avoid war between us, regardless of him disallowing me an audience with your Hokage. That was my sign of respect for his ability, and towards this… peace… process. Do not make me regret it any more than I already do."

"And yet, Katsurou defected he decided to forsake that allegiance and everything about it. He denied himself as a property of Kirigakure, dissociated himself from the village and everything within it. By arriving in Konoha, he brought himself there as a free agent," Etsu explained. "So, by his own merit, he is technically a Konoha shinobi. We have treated him as such and that is how he operates," she explains, though she is well aware of it being of no consequence to Kirigakure. Still, she felt it bore saying.

"Apologizing…" She looked Taiki as he spoke. She disagreed strongly with his idea to even recommend it to the Hokage, but it was under his authority to do so, so she said nothing of it. "My resolve is strong and Konoha as well, seeing as we have stood the test of time and are still standing even now. We are not weak, despite your beliefs and perceptions that we are. We have been on equal terms for quite some time. This should be considered," she explains to Takeshi. "We protect ours very well and closely." She inhaled deeply and focuses on Sakuryu this time. "I feel that diplomatic relations can continue, but it appears the answer to everything is war. War is not necessary for this individual. A gross misunderstanding of Konoha culture. We would rather be peaceful, but yes, as shinobi sometimes peace is a fragile thing, but I find Kiri treats it like a commodity, something that rises and falls in value according to demand and cast aside when considered….trash, for lack of a better term." She sipped at her standing tea. "Also, what Amiko says is true. There is always more at stake and need I remind that both of our villages are still reeling, despite some glimmer of evidence that our economies are on the rise. We would be harming others over a solitary person who forsake your village and your clan," she points out to the Kiri officials.

It was now that Meruin began finalizing his plans for murder should it be required. If there were any cause to begin attacking, the first to move, as the swiftest, would be himself and Kaguya Yoma. Taiki is the leader and the most dangerous to their knowledge. So Meruin would go… for Nozomi, the red furred dog with the medical jacket. Take out at least half of the ninken, throw him into grief and off of balance. Finishing off he and the other should be much easier, and he could hold off and attempt to kill the five guards while Yoma took care of Taiki and Shinobu and Takeshi and Sakuryu joined in to neutralize Amiko and Etsu and join either him or Yoma in completing their tasks. The odds are definitively in their favor, unless Konohagakure and their guards pull something surprising.

Scolding Etsu, Yoma would retort, "And no village allows someone to simply defect without consequence. Our especially. So that is entirely moot. It doesn't matter what he wants. It doesn't matter what he did. He does not have the free will to do as he pleases. He is part of our military, not a civilian. He signed his choice away." As She spoke of standing the test of time, Yoma would growl, "A decade… is not time worth even mentioning. You have been established longer shorter than the life of the child you stole. And yes… /we/ would go to war for /our own/."

Takeshi sips from the sake and pours another cup, "Don't blame us for the war. You could have simply let him alone, but pretending as if you don't understand why Kirigakure wants him back is a joke. So you will choose war because your ideals don't let us have him. It is not us bringing this war. So I guess we'll see another war in my time. Annoying. I wanted to live in peace." Another thing of sake before he stands, "Anyways, I guess we're done."

"A decade is long enough. There's no such thing as 'war years'. It is not a time frame. It's a simple fact. We will continue to stand and I expect the same out of your village. Treating ten years like it's not worthy of note is…" She wanted to say foolish, idiotic, a mistake. "Something I must disagree with." Etsu shook her head. "By your own beliefs, I highly doubt he'd be treated as 'your own' considering he's been labeled everything but that in this meeting." She looked at them all as she's done before. "I never claimed I didn't understand and I've blamed no one for any war. I still wish to pursue diplomatic options. I doubt any of us truly wants another war on our hands. I'd rather not."

Sakuryu sighs and looks at the group respectfully. "This is not the time to bring up the past, or twisted words that have been spoken. This is a matter directly concerning one ninja, and his indiscretions against a village. He is in the Bingobook, he has been marked by our Anbu, Thus he is a criminal and under any statute Konoha is breaking law and creating an inter village crime by this." She nods as she looks around. "This may not be directly handled as a matter of the Shirayuki but I was sent as their representitive and our stance is that Katsurou is a criminal and we have offered bounty for his return for the theft of our secrets and espionage." She nods before settling back

Amiko rolls her eyes and leans back in her chair. She couldn't believe that Kirigakure were being so obstinate. And to think that they'd blame Konoha for their own arrogance and inability to see reason. "Clearly, with the negotiations you brought to the table you came here with the agenda of beginning a war. If that's the case, don't let us stand in your way. If you actually want an apology, we can take your offer to the Hokage, but surely even you realise that if both sides are at fault, both sides will need to apologise," she says, not bothering to make eye contact with anyone. And with that she pushes her chair out from the table and stands up. "I suppose we'll be leaving, since there seems little more to be said."

Taiki closes his eyes for a moment and then shakes his head. He opens them and motions for the Konoha contingent to start leaving. As far as he's concerned, no further effort can be made here. "I'll make my recommendation, and explain everything to her. I will note that certain factors will make my job more difficult." He leaves that statement to be interpreted however Yoma wishes, for it is obviously Taiki's last here.

Having said that he glances briefly at Etsu and Amiko. "That's it, we're done here. Everyone out." He looks pointedly at Etsu and says, "It's gone on long enough," then points to the door. The dogs, however, do not take their eyes off of Meruin for for even a moment. If the spider man makes one single move to attack, they will be on him in seconds. No free shots there. Instead, Taiki seems to be looking squarely at Yoma, assessing him. "The Tiger should remember that wolves travel in packs."

Etsu makes no further comments. Taiki has spoken. She rises from her seat and bows to Kiri prior to departing. No need to rid herself of manners. She called back some of her insects that had been posted on guard duty while leaving some behind to track activity while their backs were turned. Only when she truly felt safe with, which was unlikely with these individuals, would she call them back.

"And yet no one compares a wolf, or a pack of wolves, to a dragon." Yoma would say smoothly in retort to Taiki as the meeting was disbanded. As far as Amiko's words were cocnerned, they were just that, words. She did not listen. She did not understand. "By the way, Konoha representatives. If war was what we wanted, we would have had no reason to bother talking, and every single right to simply attack. Our entire reason for coming, was to allow this "peace" to have a chance to work. You have chosen not to pursue it, because you insult our very /blood/ at this table, by even suggesting that Shirayuki Katsurou's life and talents are even close to equivalent to an apology for war crimes and Konoha's participation in harboring our village's criminal despite our asking for his return. And so once again, we will remember the complete mockery of "peace" that Konoha represents. We will remember every single scar you give to our culture, to our family, to our name, and to our blood, because you choose not to even try to understand who and what we are."

Takeshi nods at Taiki, "I'll send you some more of that tea you like. Give my regards to your family." Though he frowns slightly, "I guess we'll be enemies for a bit. It's not something I'll look forward to, but we both have our ideals to protect. Sometimes I wonder about how things would be different if I had just stayed out of Kirigakure…But that's wishful thinking. I can't go back and relive the past. Taiki, Etsu, Amiko. Please, have a safe trip back to your village." With that he bows, turning to the others as he narrows at Yoma, "Quiet. The discussions are over. You'll respect his status." Then a wave of his hands, "The rest of you out. We're leaving."

Sakuryu frowns and looks among them. "Sirs, If I may have a moment…I am in the chuunin exams. What am I to do? Return to the leaf or to the village? I do not wish to cause conflict that will show badly upon my family name bu further inciting the war over a traitor, but also returning home without the title of chuunin would also be seen as a failure."

Takeshi nods at Sakuryu, "Konoha is not so baseless as to go to war during an exam. However, when it is concluded, I would suggest you leave as soon as possible. By that I mean, literally the moment the last match is over." A nod at Taiki, "That sound about right? At least I hope for both our villages we can at least put the war on hold until after such an event."

Taiki looks to the group and nods. "That sounds about right. The Hokage may still decide to offer the apology, I don't know. I would say the ball is in her court now. If she offers it during the final part of the exams, I will assume there's to be no war. But if she doesn't, then get out the moment the last match ends. You will have 24 hours from that point to be as far from Konoha as possible."

Okumo Meruin looks from Taiki to Nozomi…

«<Begin Kiri only part»>

Yoma would place a hand upon Sakuryu's little shoulder and stop her from leaving the now secure area. He allowed Meruin to ensure that they were all alone as he'd begin to speak with her lowly. "I am sorry, Sakuryu. I do not want this to appear as a betrayal to your clan and your ways. It is simply… the will of Kirigakure that motivates our actions. I wish you well in the exams. Do your clan proud, and do not hesitate against Katsurou if you should cross his path."

Sakuryu nods. "The Shirayuki were truly going to only interrogate him and remove his Kekkei genkai before passing him to Anbu but it seems it has come to this…" She sighs. "I only hope that I can advance myself and be seen as good enough to join the Anbu to be the one to take his life. He has shamed the clan and it weighs heavily upon us all to be seen as a traitorous clan."

Takeshi turns to Sakuryu, "Traitorous clan? Because of one person? That's a stretch. No one thinks you are the Traitorous clan." Though he takes a moment to peer over at Yoma, "Well, we're having a war. I hear you're pushing in on the elder council. At the moment, I'm not going to be behind that decision and since it requires a majority vote you need both I and Yuuka. Still, you have a war to prepare for. I want to see how you do. I'll give you the power to lead the armies of the kaguya. I want to see how you deal with it."

Yoma would nod for a moment, grimly as he considered Sakuryu's words. However… as Takeshi spoke up, he seemed to become indifferent at the very least. "We will survive. That is the legacy of the blood of the Land of Water as a whole. That is what unites us as a people. And those that survive, will grow far stronger than those that perish. And we will not stop simply because we win. We will train for the next war, and the next… we will be prepared for the end of all days itself. That, is Kirigakure." He would begin to move from the area. "And to think…. we just made sure that the Kaguya are loyal to Kirigakure, to their clan, and yet riled up and ready for battle with anything that is remotely a challenge. And you are giving me this horde? Victory is assured."

Takeshi nods, "I'm giving you an unruly horde, that only wants to kill without abandon, won't follow commands or directions, will forget tactics in exchange for brute force and that will throw itself upon a spear simply to kill one person. You need to see the hardships in leading that horde. It's time that you understand that what you see in our clan today as Apathy or Indecisiveness is simply Surity."

Sakuryu kneels before Yoma respectfully. "Sir, if you would and it comes to it, I would at least like to view his death to confirm it for the family. I have recently claimed an item that shows my birthright as an Heir of the frozen blood and I believe that his final breath should be drawn at the end of it's blade." she bows her head. "Please bring this to the Kirikage."

"If they cannot adapt, then they will indeed die needlessly. I will not baby sit them. But i wil teach them how to survive, and how to serve. I will teach them the certainty of cause as well as instinct. And only the fittest will survive. That is the law of nature itself." Yoma nodded towards Takeshi before looking towards Sakuryu's lowered form. "I will be speaking to the Mizukage very shortly. There is much to discuss. Do not worry, your message will reach him."

«<End Kiri only part»>

«<Begin private conversation in a secured location away from spies, devices, etc.»>

As the representatives of both nations run out the door, Takeshi turns to follow after the Konohagakure representatives, specifically Taiki. "Taiki, we need to talk." That said he tries to move up to the man, but of course guards. Little old harmless Takeshi, but it seems that the guards at least aren't falling for that ambassador. A sixty year old shinobi is hardly harmless. "If you don't mind."

moment and then nods. "Inside the ship, I won't feel like my people are safe until we're away from here," he says. He gives the guards a meaningful look, as Taiki does indeed know Takeshi rather well, and is willing to give him a chance to speak, even if he is rather fed up with certain members of Kiri at the moment.

Takeshi nods, "That's fine. I trust you. Maybe not your guards, but you, and your ability to control their movements." The cane taps along in pace with the rest as they head to the ship and to whatever meeting area Taiki meant to lead them to. Entering it, he finds a seat but doesn't sit, remaining standing, "Yoma is hard headed and rude. However, luckily for us both, Yoma is neither an elder nor the kage's aide. I happen to be both. That being said, before you make your report, I have an alternative."

Etsu didn't know Takeshi as well as Taiki did, so she had a number of reservations regarding speaking with him. Yet, out of respect for the Inuzuka, she said nothing and simply bowed to the elder Kaguya. "This is…questionable," she vocalized. Her thoughts hardly changed, but she felt that needed to be said.

Taiki nods and takes a seat after telling the guards to meke sure no one is watching the ship. "I gathered that," Taiki says with a frown even as Shinobu huffs then laid down. "Upper hand or no, you don't start negotiations with aggression. Any genin should know that, much less a member of the Seven Swordmen." Taiki was obviously not impressed. "So what do you have in mind Takeshi-san?"

Takeshi nods at Etsu, "Maybe so. This is a discussion between myself, an elder and the second in command of Kirigakure at the moment, and Taiki. You're part of his entourage so of course you are welcome to join. I believe Taiki will understand when I say I had to let the dogs yap before I could open the door." That being said he takes his own seat, "A third option, that works in our favor and yours. The fact of the matter is that if Katsurou returns to us, he won't be harmed. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, me. I'll stand against it, because I truly believe he hasn't shared any information with you of importance. Secondly, The Mizukage. Who much the same as me, doesn't believe he's shared any information with you outside of the normal. The shirayuki will ruffle their feathers no doubt, but, without going into the entire long drawn out explanation, they have essentially declined in influence and power within the land of mist. Their yapping won't amount to much and it certainly won't impress those of us in charge of the village."

There's a pause as that sinks in, "This solution see, it's simple. Hashiramako explains that there was a misunderstanding as to the exact status of Katsurou. She didn't know that he had been added to our bingobook and registered as a missing ninja officially. Hashiramako doesn't apologize for this, she simply states that given the new information obtained from diplomatic 'talks,' if we can even call that yammering from before, Konohagakure has changed their position on the matter. Katsurou will be returned to Kirigakure. In exchange, Kirigakure will cheer Konohagakure's nature of understanding and peaceful adherrance to the laws. All the while, neither village has to lose any face. The world will take it for what it is: misinformation being spread. They'll accept it was the work of some other person and then forget it soon after as it ultimately didn't affect them."

There's another pause, "Alternatively, since the ultimate issue here is Katsurou. Demand that I be the one to escort him to Kirigakure. Along the way, we'll arrange for a trade. You take the boy, I'll say that unknown assailants bearing the Shirayuki colors attacked us and took the boy. Then all you have to do is keep his mouth shut. He'll live peacefully ever after and I'll shift the problem off of you and onto a clan I have no love for."

"I have a number of harsh words for that instance, but I keep them from slipping from my tongue. But, I suppose I am open to alternatives. Forgive me if I may come across as embittered," Etsu starts off as she takes a seat. "So, you are offering an alternative. One that will not lead to war. This is desirable and favourable. I don't want us in another war. I am well aware of how our villages don't see eye to eye, but I am not disillusioned. I understand far more than what was realized, however any shinobi in their right mind would stand up for the cause of their village. Of course, if things lead into the direction of war, I'm more than ready to play my part, though I feel it'd be somewhat in vain. Dying over a lone person, over a misunderstanding is not my idea of honorable."

Etsu pauses. "Of course, I meant every word I said in that room. I believe in my cause. In the Hokage's decision."

Taiki nods once when Takeshi speaks to Etsu about yapping dogs. "Not forgetting I am young in years myself, I have a lot of mileage behind me, and I was fed politics along with my mother's milk. It's what my part of the Inuzuka clan is rather famous for. In this case, the elder dogs can't really get much work done until the pups stop their yapping and either grow uninterested or go to sleep. Yoma-san set us up for failure. I honestly cannot see Hashiramako-sama agreeing to all those terms, on the sheer basis of saving face. That admission would cost us a lot of jobs. Still, it would have been a small price to pay if Yoma were willing to recipacate on the counter offer. But he wasn't, which told me his true intention, thus my warnings about Tigers and Wolves at the end."

Taiki sighs and then turns his attention back to Takeshi. "Frankly, either one of your options would probably sit better, and I could find myself supporting either one of them. You I trust, which as you know is saying a lot. Yoma… let's just say I think we're all thankful of my upbringing now." The less said about that, the better off everyone will be. After a moment he adds, "I cannot in good conscience sacrifice thousands of individuals over one person. I will definitely relay your offers to the Hokage with a much lighter heart. But just to be clear, what would you like in return for either of these simpler solutions?"

Takeshi shakes his head, "I don't want anything. We want to avoid a war, both of these alternatives resets the counters to being even. So there isn't any needed to balance one counter out with another."

"What I have concerns about now…is if we can prevent this from happening? The way we ended that meeting…I felt for certain war was coming…" Etsu stated. "Though…I can't deny that I crave the fighting, if only because I wanted to silence two people in the room. I did not like that Okumo and Yoma was degrading and frustrating. He knows nothing of diplomacy, yet he had many accusations."

Takeshi smiles at Etsu, "Yoma isn't in charge. Yuge is and I am his second. And I don't expect you to justify your actions to me. You did the right thing and Taiki made the same decision I would have in his position. You can't bend as a shinobi, it marks you as weak, but you can stretch. That's what I'm doing now with my alternatives." The elder stands and nods at Taiki, pulling out a bottle of sake and putting it on the table. "For the trip back. Be safe." Then he turns to leave.

Taiki nods to Tekeshi in understanding. "Then I will recommend them both to Hashiramako-sama and let her select the one that best fits. We can keep Katsurou-san quiet if it is the second option. That is not a problem. Be safe Takeshi," he adds as the Kaguya leaves. Turning to Etsu he says, "He has a point, Takeshi-san's words have much more meaning and weight than Yoma-teme's." The last is said after Takeshi is gone so as to not strain hiss friend's selective hearing too much. "Ultimiately it will be the Mizukage that pushes this war if it happens, not… him."

Etsu nodded in understanding. Part of her was relieved. She wasn't going to have to expose her jutsu that quickly, but desperate times call for desperate measures as the saying goes. When Takeshi departed, she reached for the bottle of sake left behind and opened it. "He is a fool among his ranks. He would have had his people killed over one individual who is of no consequence to either village. I would have taken great pleasure in decimating him and those who followed. I would show them the meaning of forfeiting life. I hope that the Mizukage makes the right decision…"

Taiki gets a couple of glasses and sets them down on the table, silently asking her to pour him one as well. "Yoma-teme nearly had himself killed a couple of times in there. He may be a member of the Seven Swordsmen, but filibustering off a clan head is never a good thing, especially when you're uncertain of your allies. But make no mistake, Tekeshi-san is no fool. You do not live go be his age without learning a thing or three. You will note he kept his remarks to correcting mis-perceptions only, no serious demands. That should tell you right there what kind of man he is." After his drink is poured, he slams half of it home in a gulp and then adds, "I don't think I need to remind you not to talk about his second option to anyone, do I? That option was never offered, and no mention will be made to the Hokage about it." Taiki looks at Etsu significantly, as if willing her to catch his true meaning.

"Agreed," Etsu spoke while pouring Taiki and herself some sake. She'd set the bottle down and grab the glass instead. "I will try to take your words for this. I invest trust in you because I believe you have the best interests for Konoha at heart. The second option that you speak of will not be spoken of."

«<End private conversation»>

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