Date: February, 2010
What first began as a spying task turns into a case when Itami enlists the aid of Nagahara Rika and Sasaki Imota in a mission to try and solve a murder.
"Master Swordsman Murder"
Unlike other days here in the village of Sunagakure, this one is quite beautiful. The sky is blue and although there's an occassional wind, it isn't strong enough to be destructive. It is strong enough, however. Able to generate small whirlwinds every so often on this mostly quiet street of Toufuu. It's obvious that the more wealthy live in this area, but that also means it is filled with more problems. Those that have wealth have power, right? Tensions have been lowering since the end of the war, but they crop up when the time is convenient for spearheading some unlucky person of their wealth. %r%t Cue the beautiful mansion. Short walls surround all the land the manor sits on and atop them are fences wonderfully carved out of the sand. Inside, there is no grass, but there is a wonderful arrangement of rock gardens and sitting in a few of them are well crafted statues. Beyond this is the house itself and two small pagodas to each side of the house for relaxing in. It was a nice blend of wood and sand that made up this house and it was clearly well kept as the edges and the various faces of the house were smoothed over and maintained beyond all the damaging storms. Itami didn't know who lived in this house, but after being summonsed for a case of infidelity of all things has made her quite familiar with the guy that owns this place. She sighs as she walks up to the gates and opens them, checking in with the guards before being let in to the home and reporting her latest news in regards to what this man's wife was doing around the village.
So why is Rika here? Who can know!? Perhaps she is just walking around for fun. Perhaps she is stalking Itami. Perhaps she's hiding from the ravening Hibari beast. Or maybe she's just… being Rika! Who can really know. Other than that it is just past the super hot part of the day, aka, naptime for the sane! And Rika is walking along.
"Make no mistake about it. She is with someone else. Based on the picture you gave to me, I was able to identify her as she was with someone else—Then who is the one she was with!?" The guy asks only for the Jounin to shrug and say, "I do not know that yet, but I gave a description to those who keep the information on the villagers here and they are looking into it as we speak." She comments while picking up the cup of coffee he had made specifically for this meeting. Sipping on it she sighs softly and sets the cup back down and as she begins to announce that the report is done, one of the attendants comes in and reports that someone is visiting. But who? The man excuses himself and goes to the side entrance to his home and that leaves Itami alone to relax for a bit until he returns.
Standing up from her seat on the floor she stretches and walks outside towards the front where she came in and sees Rika walking along the street. "Rika-san!" She calls out to her with a lift of her hand. "What are you up to?" Is asked as she directs the guards to allow her in. They comply and open the gates for Rika to enter as if she couldn't really do it on her own as she could have totally just dropped into the area. c.c
"Morning Walk." If by morning, she means after the nap… or maybe she just slept until now after a late night outside. It's really hard to say! But she is certainly yawning as she says it, her hand raised to cover her mouth as she is. "So not much." She languidly adds, blinking a bit and looking about. "Wow, ritzy place." She declares before looking back to Itami, "I don't think this is yours," a pause, some bemusement, "Why are we here?"
Itami chuckles. "I see. Well, it's nice to see you're up. As far as this place…" Itami turns back towards the home and shrugs saying, "It's not mine, of course. /I/ am here because I was summoned for a small case. Nothing too serious." She waves her hand in a kind of 'no problem' gesutre. "I do not know why you're here, however. Were you on your way to someplace? Or following me? Either or, it's good to see you here. There's coffee in the main house if you wish to partake of some. I can find an attendant to have some poured for you." She explains only to grow silent when she thinks she hears something.
"…Did you hear something?" She inquires as she looks around the area. "Might have been an attendant. They are often walking around."
"Following you? OK?" Rika seems a bit perplexed by this question. Before she shakes herhead. "Oh, I was just walking. Not much more. Hadn't walked in this part of the village for a while. So it seemed as good as any other." Then she looks over towards the side and squints (Or is that closes her eyes) as she looks towards it. "Might have been something from the side of the house." She lowers her voice slightly as she says that, as though that might help keep the cause of such noise from noticing.
Itami nods and gestures to the main house. "Whatever it is, I'm sure it's fine. Let's go to the main house and relax until my summoner has returned from his other business." With this she turns around towards the house and takes her seat while also having some arrangements made for Rika so that they could sit around or perhaps browse the rock gardens when the man returns. The Jounin felt comfortable, but she couldn't shake the feeling she was getting. If Rika noticed it then she wasn't the only one, right?
Soon, a few hours have passed and the man still has not returned. Itami was beginning to wonder about who it was the guy was meeting. The individual must be of some importance if they were able to keep his attention for so long. "Hmm. I've never had to wait this long with him before. He keeps a busy life style, I understand, but no one has kept him this long before. That is, when people have visited…" She sighs and rises up. "Should we go search for him? It may seem a little invasive if we do so. Perhaps we should send an attendant for him." She suggests. "Rika-san, would you mind doing that? I want to step outside for a few moments and stretch out for a little." Rising from her seat she pushes the sliding door aside and walks out into the open to mill around to shake off the stiffness of sitting for a few hours.
"Yeah, I can do that." Rika says, having been quite content and relaxed as they are waiting. "Though shouldn't we go look at that place we thought the noise was from?" She suggests. "If things are weird, that seems to be a better way to go about it than to sit there." She stretches her hands over her head to stretch out before she finally stands up. "Any clue where he was going on business? Might help if we know where to start looking too." She further muses.
"Well, I would myself, but I've only been shown to the main house and I do not want to intrude in other places I am not wanted. To respect the privacy of this person's home. That is why I thought an attendant would be best to go look as they are more free to roam." Itami explains with a few hand gestures. As she finishes, the wife of the husband comes in and sees Rika and Itami, greeting them with a wave and smiles.
As she draws closer her expression slowly changes into that of curiosity and she bows to them both saying, "Greetings. I do not believe I have had the pleasure of meeting you both before…" Her voice trails off and she then switches to suspicion, "So what are you two doing here, hm? You're a ninja and…you're a Council member. He hired you to look after me didn't he!?" She raises her voice to them both. "Is he paying you for this? I can double it, just keep quiet about it. He doesn't need to know what I'm doing anyhow. He hasn't cared in so long." She sighs and waves her hand in a careless motion.
Itami grows quiet and then asks, "…You're…not serious. You're trying to keep us quiet by bribing us…?" The wife shrugs and says, "Ninja are human too. Some can bend easily at the prospect of money." The Jounin hums and replies… "True," with a grin. "Oh, wait there's an attendant now," is said as she turns her head to stifle a snicker. "Excuse me! I am under the employ of the master of this home and I was wondering where he may be. Might you be able to find him?" The attendant nods and goes to the next best place considering he wasn't in the main home.
"That.. wouldn't really be the best for the village's reputation." Rika says, still stretching her hands out over her head, palms to the sky and fingers interlaced as she seems like she might be about to go on. "Especially if we took bribes in our own village. That'd be horrible for our reputation and future."
The wife huffs and begins to walk towards the main house to go rest after a long day. Probably with her other suitor, but she didn't seem to care much that she was in an affair right before their eyes. Not that Itami found it a problem, really…, but it was her case to look after her. What happened /after/ was totally up to the husband to deal with. "I don't know whether her pride is scarred or boosted after that…" the Jounin shakes her head.
"Oh well. What he and her do now is left in their—" A scream is heard from the side of the house and Itami immediately turns her head in the direction it came from. The side of the house. At that point, she looks to Rika and nods before taking off towards the side of the house. The wife follows after them, although she's trailing a bit. She wanted to know also, apparently.
At the side of the house, Itami slid open the door, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Just past the pagoda that sat on this side of the main house, there was a smaller building where an attendant could be seen paler than a ghost outside on the stairs that lead into the place. Running over to the smaller building, she looks inside and sees that the master of the home has been pinned to the wall, murdered by a sword with the whole place slashed up in destruction. She sighs. "Did you see who did this?" She asks calmly to the attendant, but the attendant shakes their head. "We'll have to find out who did this. Can't have a murderer running free around here." At this point, she tells one of the guards to go and send for a genin to come and assist her and Rika in this matter. This genin would happen to be Imota.
Rika follows on out, cloak obscuring her body as she does. Her eyes dart to take in the scene before she finally says. "I hate to say I told you so… but weird noises? Probably mean we should be looking into things more intently." The young woman says to the Councilmember, her tone respectful, if a bit on the sardonic side then. Though now she is already trying to get some trace of the lay of the land, some sign of where the killer went. Some way to track them. Or any other clue for that matter.
It would not have been long before Imota would have been bumped into by the guards of the house, not to far away in a shop at the village square. When told who had been the summoning, Imota, would somehow not need an escort to where Itami had been. Meer moment would past before the boy would appear at the gates of the main house, only to be escorted in by those that had been his summon. "Itami-dono. Rika senpai. I assume my services are needed. Orders?" He would have appeared at salute for not so long however, it would not be long before the boy would soon see the massacred body of the man that had been head of this home, presuming from the obvious clothing and what have you. "Someone was in a rage. The fight was one which not had been totally one sided though. If it had, so much destruction would have not been had."
"I know. I allowed it to slip by without investigation into it previously, but I was only allowed so much ground to work with. I was only allowed into the main house. Any place else was not for me to be. Although, I did let that override my duties." Itami sighs. This was going to be troublesome for her later. Letting a murderer get by in her hands. She wonders what kind of punishment she'll suffer for this. Not only that, but she'll have to write a report. It stings a little, but she'll have to be honest about it. For now, she'll have to focus on the case at hand. From infidelity to a murder.
Turning to the people here, mostly guards and a few curious attendants, she says, "No one is to leave the premises until this investigation is finished. I will do everything in my ability to try and have this all figured out. As of now, I have sent for some help. There are many potential suspects, but I will choose only a few out of this bunch. The attendant that found the master and also…" She pauses and looks to the weeping wife saying, "His wife." She gasps and then grasps the hand of the attendant that was consoling her saying, "Why am I a suspect!? I didn't kill him!" She shouts. "Yes, but you could have had someone else to do for you. I have to take the affair into account." She announces. She huffs and shows her disappointment quite well, but it doesn't manage to sway Itami. Instead, she says, "Rika-san, would you mind searching the room, please? Perhaps you may find something in there."
Inside the room, the corpse was still pinned to the wall. It was a gruesome sight, but as Imota stated, it does appear to be a rather one sided fight, but it was so vicious. Could one person have truly done all this damage without some form of retalitation from the victim? Papers and belongings were scattered everywhere, but on the floor there was a curious lift of a stack of papers that hinted to something beneath them. Something small, but what it was had yet to be determined.
"Ah, so you've arrived, Imota-san. I am glad you are here and…my apologies that you had to see this so soon." Itami sighs. "I want you to help on this investigation. With all your knowledge, I'm sure this would be settled fairly quickly. As you pointed out, the battle does seem one sided. I am unsure who could have done such a thing, but we cannot allow them to get away with this."
"Hai." Rika says, and keeps up with what she was already doing, a very careful analysis and overlook of the area, slow, methodical, doing her utmost not to even disturb the ground before she moves over it. In reality, it looks like she is barely moving at all, but that's in no small part because of how carefully she is going over everything. And eventually, the papers too, and she finds one in here. "Hmm, I think I've got his Agenda, Itami-senpai." She moves over to hand it to Itami.
Seeing that in some way, his deduction had been right, Imota would look to each of those that had been amongst them including the servants guards and the wife, each of them getting blank stares from the small boy, none of which had been even the slightest bit accusing, or even threatening, but stares from a seemingly absent mind. He would look at the once servant that knew where the master had been. The probility of involvement by that one person had went up almost 25. It was just to obvious to him for that reason alone that they would have been the killer. But they did know his dwelling. When Rika seems to have been conducting her own analysis, Imota would remain silent for a moment before he would again listen to the rants of the woman that had been the victims wife.
Itami takes the Agenda in hand and nods to Rika saying, "Thank you," while opening it and looking over the names inside. All of them were scheduled for today. She hums and then looks over to the body against the wall saying, "Imota-san. Can you go look over the body and tell me what you can make of it?" She continues to look at the agenda, but the examination of the body was important at this point as it would help her guage her thoughts. At this point, he'd see that the body is close to stiffening and the blood has nearly dried on the wall and over other areas where it managed to spread and or leak. With this in mind, that would lower the amount of suspects in the case.
Rika is now working on things a bit further away, still trying to see any sign of tracks or other little clues that might be around. In fact, to get a better view on things she suddenly jumps up to a wall so she can look down at it from an entirely different perspective.
This mystery had been shapping up to be quite a situation. With the room having been searched, obviously, Imota could tell one thing. This whole situation had been a cover up for a search. A gruesome sight, only to disguise one thing-…something important and small. Imota would look at the body of the man, but only after noticing that on the floor not to far away, something withing a stack of papers had removed. It had to been something extremely important for such a situation to have played out such a way. "This man didn't die immediately. He was pinned up here, and interrogated." He would then point to the spot he had been looking at and and say, "What ever had been found here, had been taken after which this man had been tortured, for its location. Who ever could pin this man up here, had to have been strong enough to lift him in the first place. When the master refused, he was executed and the room, was destroyed and searched madly." Itami would get a look from Imota, as he would say, "Whoever was responsible for this killing, would be the same person that was in possession of whatever had been in this spot." As for now, Imota was still trying to figure out what.
From the new perspective things could seem a bit odder than usual as it details the room from top to bottom. Not that the previous outlook wasn't any help, but from above it is easier to see the difference in the slashes that mark the room. The ones on the ceiling are fairly light. Some may be heavy, but for the most part they are hollow as opposed to those that were on the walls and floor which were fairly heavy. Against the wall there was a file cabinet of sorts, almost taking up half the wall. It was made of wood and the drawrs on it were small and square, perhaps for keeping scrolls and parchments within them. This cabinet, along with the rest of the room, was slashed heavily. A little more heavily than the rest of the room.
Itami, listening to Imota's assessment hummed softly and lifted her hand to stroke her scarf. "That could be possible…" She states. "But what of the body. That is what I am curious about at the moment. If he did not die immediately, then when did he die?" She wonders. "You may have something there, however. Rika-san, do you see anything from up there?" What she may see is a faint splotches of blood that, while looks randomized, has a certain frequency that leads one to believe that it is a trail. It ends abruptly outside before the first step of the deck of the house.
"The trail of blood leads out there." Comes Rika's response as she points out towards said first step of the deck. "I'll need to get closer to try and trail it even more." She muses. Flickering from sight there in a burst of wind, and reappearing where the trail of blood ended. "And there were slashes even up on the ceiling. I recommend looking into the cabinet over there too." She points to the very heavilly slashed one. "There might be something in there. They seem to really have focused on it."
"Oh well simple enough. I had not seen the trail. But it still only concludes my theory. He probably bled to death after being dragged to this place. Probably from wounds inflicted somewhere else in the home. The slashes don't seem that accurate though. My taijutsu is not well enough, but this does not look like an accurate kill. Who ever this person was, they were definitely nervous about getting caught." He would follow along with Rika toward the last room to inspect there.
Itami nods to Rika's words and as she goes to inspect them, she would be able to see the trace line going under the small building. Hidden beneath the place would be another sword that was tossed astray to hide it from anyone that would come looking for it. If there were two swords that means that the fight wasn't all that one sided at all and that there were hints of a struggle, but an apparent winner as the winner has escaped. "Hmm, yes, but it doesn't quite conclude mine." Itami says as she snaps the agenda shut. As she looks over the body she guages that whoever did it had to have come within the few hours that she was waiting for the master to return. That gives the body plenty of time to grow stiff, perhaps not fully, but close.
"Don't leave the room yet. There's still something else in here that's being overlooked. Rika-san mentioned it, perhaps you would be able to search this cabinet here." She states to Imota. "I'll let Rika-san do the searching as the criminal could quite possibly be on the loose around here and could prove to be dangerous. I would rather you stay around, if you do not mind." It is at this point that the wife, who has now finished crying walks over and asks, "Is this almost done? I hope so. I would like to give my husband a proper burial after all of this." She sniffles after this statement. "I honestly did not know this would happen." She states with sincerety. Itami nods in agreement saying, "I believe you, but this is all just protocol. You are no longer a suspect. I noticed in his agenda that the other names are all master swordsmen. Do you know any of them?" The wife nods in reply saying, "I know them, but only as acquaintances. All I know of them is that they each had schools and they had their students compete often for healthy competition. They've known one another for a long time. Longer than my husband knew me…" She sighs. "I see. Thank you." She states as she taps the agenda in her hand lightly.
Rika nods to Itami and goes about searching the area around the house, trying to find any sign of the murderer or some sort of trail if she can. Though at this point she is starting to get a bit more cautious about it. Those techniques may end up hurting if she lets her guard down and isambushed. And swords have an annoying tendency of hurting quite a bit.
Something was getting passed Imota, that he could not quite put his fingers on. The agenda that was found had been showing swordmen of master calibur, and with them seeming to find another sword, it seemed that the battle had not been one sided. A rivalry between swordmen, that ended in a duel gone bad? Of course that would probably clear out alot of other theories the boy had. He would obey the command and move over to search the cabinet left in the small house. Imota would hear the wife speak of her husband, and it would only make him more suspicious of her in the least.
Itami opens the agenda once more and looks at the two names that were listed under the closest times within the few hours, so that makes them the likely suspects of this case. Closing it more gently this time, she hums and looks at the sword that was brought in by one of the guards. It had the blood of the opponent on it and…it looked similar to the one that was pinned into the body. So the swordsman used one of the house master's swords to attack him. Makes it less easy to identify the swordsman if it isn't of their design, right?
As she casts her eyes over the cabinet once more, she lifts her hand to her scarf and winces. It was so heavily scarred, but why…? When she gives it closer inspection she gasps softly and says, "Imota-san. Tell me what you see on this cabinet. There's something off about it. Why it's so heavily slashed. There's a reason, but what is that reason?" She inquires of him with a soft smirk.
Looking at the cabinets, Imota would find it really weird. "Funny…the slashes here aren't full ones. They start off heavy but end in lighter slashes once you move to about these drawers. Unusual. Whatever there were going for, they were really trying to make sure they didn't hurt or destroy these." He would look to Itami, and say, "Something was intend as a target, and something else wasn't it. If this had been an attack out of pure rage, the amount of destruction would not differ from place to place."
"Mmmhm." Itami hums and nods. "Exactly. So why would all these slashes be in different places?" She wonders with a grin. "Perhaps something should be done about that cabinet, no?" She walks over and observes it a little more closely. "What do you think should be done? Particularly with the drawers since they suffered the most damage." She wonders as she taps the Agenda in her hand lightly. She hoped he would move them around to match the slashes. It might be a bit of a difficult task, but she thinks he can manage.
Rika is gone for a time, busy doing the searching thing all over the manor. She doesn't really pay heed to privacy at this point. It's an investigation now. But she's found something, which she says too! "Itami-senpai. I think I have a primary suspect." She is paging through some papers, as though skimming them. "It seems the master of the household was one of four swordsmanship school masters. He was working to found a coordinated school. But it seems one of the other three was giving them some troubles."
Imota would have been in action, as he would began to move the pieces in place to figure which slashes matched which. It seemed that the he had more to go on due to the slashes of some being more lighter and less deepened than others. He would have bveen at this only a few seconds before portions of the drawer would have been assembled, thanks to some quick thinking and the hammering in of a couple of senbon to hold the structures together. He would look awhile at his work before then look to itami and Rika.
"Excellent, Rika-san! You're just in time and with some good information too because I believe that things have been figured out…" Itami turns over to the drawers that were reassembled by Imota and pointed out the peculiar way the cabinet was now marked. "It seems a little odd the way these markings are, don't you think?" She grins and points out the way they were arranged. Sort of like characters for a name. "With the drawers put together…" She opens the Agenda and points out the name that looks similar to the slashes and then points to the cabinet. "We see who our murderer is." She grins.
"Huh." Rika says, looking at the cabinet as well, "Easy enough." She stretches her hands out over her head. "Seems we have someone to arrest now. If he's even still in the village. I'd imagine a murderer might have made a run for it." She considers, thoughtfully. "Shall I go get the word out, Itami-senpai?" She asks.
Itami nods at Rika's suggestion and so the word was sent out to try and find the criminal that committed the murder. The Council member can only hope that the criminal will be found and caught as this did happen on her watch, after all. She is more than responsible for this and she partially feels guilty for the murder of the victim, even if she didn't commit it herself.